Woke Comes Out of the Shadows

Auguste Meyrat writes at American Mind Shadows on the Wall.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

The “Twitter Files” remind us how wokeness has infected the tech elites.

With each new batch of the “Twitter Files,” it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Twitter censors were not only duplicitous scoundrels aiming to advance an agenda but also incompetents who failed to see the consequences of their actions. Whether it was suppressing the Hunter Biden storyshadow banning and de-amplifying popular conservative figures and certain medical professionals, and removing a sitting president of the United States from the platform, they convinced themselves that they were making the world a better place.

At no point did they seriously question themselves beyond violating their own rules. It never dawned on them that their constant gaslighting jeopardizes the freedom, health, and safety of all Americans. It seemed to matter little that they oversaw a platform that promised open public discourse but degenerated into a leftist propaganda outlet infested with bots and child pornography.

Not only did these censors do real damage at the bidding of a corrupt FBI but they ruined a potentially successful business.

Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, there were few real conversations happening on the platform, and Twitter was relatively small compared to other social media platforms. For the great majority of users, scrolling through one’s Twitter feed was never an enlightening, connective, or even fun experience but more a mindless habit to pass the time.

Seeing that this is the case, it’s fair to ask what really drove the moderators to do what they did. They could have easily let the First Amendment be their standard for content moderation and sipped their lattes while attending useless meetings. Why did they feel the need to risk their cushy careers by setting into motion a hostile takeover by Elon Musk and an incoming onslaught of lawsuits from users?

From any angle, this seems utterly foolish—that is, except from the woke angle. While rational actors would have understood the sheer destructiveness of censoring users without cause, facilitating the rigging of elections, and endangering the public by denying them important information on a pandemic, woke actors lack this capacity. They operate on feelings and self-regard, not evidence and logic.

Elon Musk famously called wokeness a “mind virus.”

It infects people’s mental faculties and drives them to act and express themselves irrationally. Gad Saad expounds upon this in his book The Parasitic Mind. He bemoans the decline of academic scholarship and intellectual debate at today’s universities all in the name of establishing social justice. Of course, rather than create a more equitable and just world, the woke swarm only achieves the opposite—a world of unforgiving hierarchy and hypocrisy. But instead of learning from their failure, they double down and become ever more unreasonable.

For Saad, this is less an ideology and more an “idea pathogen.” In his scientific opinion, victims of wokeness specifically suffer from “Ostrich Parasitic Syndrome (OPS),” substituting for reality a fiction in which “science, reason, rules of causality, evidentiary thresholds, a near-infinite amount of data, data analytic procedures, inferential statistics, the epistemological rules inherent to the scientific method, rules of logic, historical patterns, daily patterns, and common sense are all rejected.”

Unfortunately it’s still an open question of how to “defeat wokeness,” as Elon Musk recently declared. Anyone who has experienced an encounter with the woke infected knows that exposing their falsehoods and contradictions (“sunlight is the best disinfectant,” or, in the new favored expression, “democracy dies in darkness”) only makes them sicker and more dangerous. This is why the “Twitter Files” have mostly elicited silence from the corporate media. Maybe a few of them are pleading the Fifth and hoping the story goes away, but it’s more likely that most don’t understand what these revelations mean, nor do they really care.

So does that mean that releasing and discussing the “Twitter Files” is worthless? Not at all. Even if it doesn’t cure the woke censors or their woke supporters, it fortifies the intellectual immune system of everyone else. Americans now know that they are not crazy; in truth, they are living throughnew kind of totalitarianism where Big Tech platforms control speech, impose a social credit system, and fabricate overarching narratives out of thin air.

While this is not exactly a consoling thought, it’s at least the beginning of a solution. The problem has now been identified, and there are now enough informed members of society to have a constructive conversation about the issue. This in turn could lead to finding a cure to the woke pandemic. If these problems continue going ignored and unchecked, the civilized world will surely crumble into ruin, adopting the same chaos, stupidity, and hypocrisy inherent in today’s woke culture.

 

Male Swimmers Break Glass Ceiling

The fight for social justice began decades ago when these two intrepid souls set out to end their exclusion from the sport of synchronized swimming.  The victory is not yet complete as we can read below, but progress has now come to light.

Leah Barkoukis reports the breakthrough in her article Why One Sport Will See a Major Change at the 2024 Olympics.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

One sport is going to look very different at the 2024 Paris Olympics—that’s because the traditionally all-female synchronized swimming, now known as artistic swimming—will have men competing at the highest level due to a recent decision by the International Olympic Committee.

According to an announcement from World Aquatics, formerly FINA,

Men were locked out of Olympic synchronized swimming competition for four decades. The embargo started to lift in 2015, when swimming’s world championships included a mixed duet event for the first time, but the Olympic barrier had remained firm.

The notion of men competing in synchronized swimming was memorably sent up in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that aired in 1984, the same year the competition debuted at the Los Angeles Olympics. Many people associated the sport with the “water ballet” and elaborate formations of women in the MGM films of the 1940s and ‘50s starring Esther Williams.

Yet some female swimmers told The Wall Street Journal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio that they thought it would help their sport by drawing more attention, and potentially making it possible for teams to perform bigger lifts. The World Aquatics announcement drew emotional responses from some campaigners, above all Bill May, the now 43-year-old swimmer who had pushed for it for most of his life, and who described it as “the impossible dream.”

“This proves that we should all dream big,” he said in a statement released through World Aquatics.

Just as notions of the Olympic sports women could compete in have expanded to include competitions like boxing and wrestling, societal norms in some countries have shifted to expand the acceptable sports and roles for men.

Ashley Johnson, USA Artistic Swimming’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, said she read the announcement five times until she could believe what she was seeing—a ban that appeared increasingly anachronistic to her would finally lift. 

“It’s going to be a game-changer,” she said, seeing it as an important message for the sport: “Just do your passion, and forget your gender and your race.”

Johnson said that all of the top federations in artistic swimming had a pool of male swimmers to draw on, some of whom had already competed in the world championships mixed duet event. “You’re a world champion, but you can’t go to the Olympics because you’re a male?” she said of the situation until Thursday. (WSJ)

According to the announcement from World Aquatics, formerly FINA, the IOC gave the green light to a maximum of two men competing on eight-member teams. Duets, however, will remain all-female. So the ceiling has not been fully breeched.  [Disclaimer: The video is a skit from back in the day when SNL was all about laughter rather than scoring lefitst points.}

A Realist Looks at 2022 Geopolitics

A month ago Freddie Sayers of Unherd interviewed John Mearsheimer on the current state of geopolitics, considering open conflict in Ukraine and tension in Asia concerning Taiwan.  For who prefer reading the commentary, I provide a transcript from the closed captions, lightly edited to form the text below.  I found the discussion well worth the time, both enlightening and somewhat unsettling. FS refers to talk from Freddie Sayers and JM to John Mearsheimer.

FS: Hello and welcome to UnHerd. I’m Freddie Sayers. Every so often, usually only a few times in a generation, figures from the world of academia become figureheads of a whole worldview that starts attracting mass attention. My guest today is one such individual. He is the most famous proponent of the realist school of foreign policy. And his stance on Ukraine, which has been strongly critical of the US and NATO, laying most of the blame for the crisis at their door has been highly controversial.

He is the Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. And he joins me in the studio here in London to talk Ukraine, China, the world and what should happen next. Welcome, John Mearsheimer.

JM: Glad to be here, Freddie.

FS: So, the history of how we got to this point at Ukraine has been quite well rehearsed. And I know that your lectures on that subject, detailing how you argue missteps by the West forced Russia into some kind of action, have attracted literally tens of millions of views on YouTube. So I don’t think we should spend the whole time on that. But for those viewers who might not be familiar, could you just sort of lay out for us, as succinctly as possible, what the argument is of how the West forced Russia into this position?

JM: My basic argument is that the West- and here I’m talking about the United States, because the United States drives the train-is principally responsible for the Ukraine crisis, which of course, has now turned into a war. The West had a three-pronged strategy involving Ukraine, all of which was designed to make that country a Western Bulwark on Russia’s border. And the three-prong strategy first called for bringing Ukraine into NATO; second, bringing Ukraine into the European Union and three, promoting a colour revolution, an orange revolution in Ukraine that would turn Ukraine into a pro-Western liberal democracy. So there was this three-pronged strategy that the Russians unsurprisingly viewed as an existential threat.

And what’s happened since April 2008, when the United States forced NATO to say that Ukraine would become part of NATO is that this situation has gotten worse and worse. And the crisis first broke out on February 22 2014 and then, of course, we had a war starting on February 24th of 2022.

FS: So let’s just talk about what we’ve learned for a moment since February the 24th 2022. Has anything about the progress of that war, from the original multipronged invasion of Ukraine by the Russians right through to their gradual retreat to smaller regions within Ukraine, as any part of that surprised you?

JM: I think that I have been surprised by the fact that the Russians performed poorly. You want to remember that the Russians went to war in Georgia, in August of 2008. And the Russian army, although it won that war rather quickly performed very poorly, and the Russians set out to reform their military so that the next time they fought, they’d perform much better. And I think almost everybody thought the Russian army, especially, would do well in Ukraine.  And it has not done well, it has struggled. There’s no question about that. So I’ve been surprised by that.

FS: And what what should we learn from that philosophically, if anything? I mean, is that is there any wider lesson from the underperformance of the Russians do you think in terms of how we should treat the next crisis or what we should have known all along?

JM: Well, I think what it shows is, you never know how a military will perform until you get into the fight. If you think of the situation regarding Taiwan, China has not fought a war since 1979. That was a long time ago. And the question of how the Chinese military would perform in a war over Taiwan is really unclear in the extreme because they haven’t fought a war in a long time. And as we know, from this Ukrainian case, and the Russian military performance, sometimes you think military is going to perform very well and it doesn’t, and vice versa, by the way.

So it just shows you how much uncertainty there is when it comes to going to war. In many ways, anytime you go to war, you’re rolling the dice. And the Russians, I think, understood they were rolling the dice. I think all the evidence is, running up to when the war started, that Putin did not want to invade Ukraine. He was working mightily to try to avoid that outcome, because I think he understood that it would be very messy. And of course, it has proved to be very messy.

FS: I want to come on to the idea of what the Russian end goals are. But let me put a couple of arguments to you, which people have said, in opposition to your more realist worldview and see what you make of them. One of them is that your whole premise is that the Russians were acting rationally, realistically, they were defending their sphere of influence, it was intolerable for them to have NATO coming so close to their borders. And this was a sort of act of self defence in some way.

But if they’ve shown to be so much weaker than, certainly we and perhaps even they realised, were they acting realistically? Is there actually an argument that they’ve now learned, and the world has shown them, the Russian side, that they had an unrealistic estimation of their own power of their own sphere of influence, and that reality has now adjusted?

JM: Well, I think you have to understand that when countries think they’re facing an existential threat, and they become desperate, they’re willing to roll the dice. They’re willing to pursue incredibly risky strategies. And the best example of this is, when Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbour on December 7th 1941. It’s very important to understand the Japanese understood full well that they were attacking Godzilla. The United States had 10 times the gross national product that Japan had. It had the capability to build a much more formidable military.

And the Japanese had no illusions that they would win the war, they thought there was a sliver of a chance they would win, but they would most likely lose. But nevertheless, they attacked. And the reason they attacked is they were desperate. The United States was economically strangling Japan at the time, and it was threatening to knock Japan out of the ranks of the great powers, and the Japanese felt they just had to do something.

So you want to understand that when great powers are desperate, they are willing to take extreme measures. This, by the way, is one of the reasons we should worry greatly about the Russians using nuclear weapons, if the Russians are losing the war in Ukraine. If they’re losing the war in Ukraine, to NATO and to its Ukrainian allies, they will certainly be in a desperate situation. And when states, great powers especially, are in desperate straits, they tend to use extreme measures to try to rescue the situation.

So I think what happened on February 24th is that Putin concluded that he really had no choice- if he was going to prevent the West from turning Ukraine into a Western Bulwark on Russia’s borders-than to attack and that he did.

FS: I want to come on to this nuclear question as well. Let me throw one other argument at you, which is that this relative strength and the relative performances of the Ukrainian side and the Russian side, of course, is partly explained by resourcing and military training and backing. But is there not also a component which tends to be absent from the realist worldview, which is a kind of moral righteousness or sense of idealism that is more present on the Ukrainian side because they feel their homeland has been invaded. And because they are so committed to it, which is absent or at least, there a lot less within the Russian military who are evidently less committed to it. And that partly explains the Ukrainian success so far, repelling the Russian incursion. Do you think what we’ve seen here, in a way, is the opposite of a realist outcome?

JM: What we’ve seen is the little guy, the plucky little guy, because Ukraine is so idealistic and so determined to defend themselves, outperforming against the odds. Well, I think the key word here is nationalism. There’s no doubt that when the Russians invaded Ukraine, that nationalism came racing to the fore, and that Ukrainian nationalism is a force multiplier in this case. And there’s also no doubt that nationalism is not part of the realist theory of international politics that I have, but nationalism is consistent with realism. So nationalism and realism fit together rather neatly.

But you want to remember the point that nationalism is also at play on the Russian side. And the more time goes by, and the more the Russians feel that the West has its gun sights on Russia, and is trying to not only defeat Russia, but knock Russia out of the ranks of the great powers, the more Russian nationalism will kick in.

You want to be very careful not to judge the outcome of this war at this particular juncture. This war has got a long time to go and it’s going to play itself out in ways that are hard to predict. But I think there is a good chance that in the end, the Russians will prevail. I’m not saying that will happen. But you don’t want to say at this point in time, Ukraine has won–Russia has lost. That remains to be seen.

Just watching the events that are happening now in Ukraine, it’s quite clear that the Russians are destroying the infrastructure in Ukraine. This is going to have huge consequences. Furthermore, the Russians are mobilising more and more troops. And they have three times as many people and they have much greater wealth than Ukraine does. Of course, you might counter that the West is backing Ukraine to the hilt, and therefore compensating for those disadvantages that Ukraine has in terms of wealth and in terms of manpower. And there is an element of truth in that. But let’s see how long the West remains deeply committed to Ukraine. So all I’m saying is, let’s not judge too soon how this one is going to end.

FS: You mentioned a moment ago, the nuclear threat. What is in your view, the correct way to treat that threat? What is the realist answer to a country such as Russia that has nuclear power, because if they could always brandish it, and to threaten them, or come up to them in any way, is just to to risk some kind of nuclear conflict, then they can do whatever they like. At what point do we have to stand up to people even if they do have nuclear weapons?

JM: The question is, are you willing to be incinerated, to stand up to the Russians over Ukraine and push them to the brink? That’s the question you have to ask yourself. It was the question that John F. Kennedy and his lieutenants had to ask himself during the Cuban Missile Crisis. For me, and in most of my realist friends, we fully appreciate that you have to be extremely careful when you’re dealing with a rival great power that is armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons that are aimed at you.

And that you cannot back that great power into a corner. You cannot put it in a situation where it’s desperate. You cannot threaten its survival because in those circumstances, there is a reasonable chance they will use nuclear weapons. And if they use nuclear weapons, you understand there’ll be no more London. There’ll be no more Europe if we get into a general thermonuclear war. And my principal goal is to avoid that.

And what I find quite remarkable at this point in time, is how few people seem to understand that danger. There is all sorts of talk in the West about defeating Russia inside Ukraine, wrecking its economy, causing regime change, and maybe even breaking up Russia the way the Soviet Union was broken up. This is a country that has thousands of nuclear weapons. If its survival is threatened, it’s likely to use them.

So we have this perverse paradox here that most people don’t seem to realise, which is that the more successful NATO and Ukraine are against Russia, the more likely it is that the Russians will use nuclear weapons and circumstances like that, I would go to great lengths to try and work out some sort of arrangement to put an end to this war as quickly as possible.

I think what JFK did during the Cuban Missile Crisis was exactly the right thing. Kennedy understood full well that the last thing we needed was a general thermonuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Where’s JFK today? I can’t find him. And I find instead, all sorts of people in the West, in the public, talking about public intellectuals, commentators, journalists, and so forth and so on. And even foreign policymakers talking in rather cavalier ways about defeating the Russians. I think this is foolish.

FS: So you talked about you and your realist friends there, what is the line for you, then? Clearly, you don’t think that the eastern parts or even perhaps the whole of Ukraine is of core strategic interest to the United States and maybe not even to Western Europe. What is, of course strategic interests? So, at what point do you think we would have to resist a Russian aggression? Would that be the Baltic States, for example? And you may well say there’s no evidence that Putin has the Baltic states in mind. But let’s play the theoretical game; were here to invade one of those countries, do you think at that point, you would support proper full to-the-hilt defence?

JM: Well, the Baltic states are in NATO. Poland and Romania are in NATO, they have an Article Five guarantee. If the Russians were to attack those countries, we would have to come to the defence of those countries, there’s no question about that.

FS: And you would support that? I would support that. Up to and including nuclear war?

JM: Well, I’m not talking about using nuclear weapons to defend those countries. What you would use are conventional forces. And if you were losing the basic strategy, or the basic doctrine is that you would countenance using nuclear weapons. What I would do in the event is hard to say. But the key point here is defending the Baltic states, defending Poland, defending Romania against a Russian invasion- which is not going to happen, by the way, this is a figment of the Western imagination. The Russians can’t even win in Ukraine, much less countenance attacking and conquering all those other countries.

But let’s hypothetically, talk about what would happen if Russia attacked those countries; the United States would come to their defence. That’s a very different issue than talking about defeating the Russians in a particular country, wrecking their economy, causing regime change, and maybe even breaking Russia up. There is a fine line out there that you don’t want to cross. Some people refer to that as a red line, you just want to be very, very careful when you’re dealing with a country that has nuclear weapons. That’s not to say you don’t want to defend yourself if that country attacks you or attacks an important ally. But there are limits to how far you can go in terms of threatening that nuclear armed adversary. That’s my point.

FS: On the specifics of Ukraine, then, what should we have done? Do you think I mean, if we consign to the history books, all the events that led us up to February 24th 2022, at the point of the invasion- whatever the rights and wrongs of what had happened prior to that- what do you think a wise response by the West would have been?

JM: Well, first of all, in April 2008, when NATO said Ukraine would become part of NATO and the Russians made it clear that that was an existential threat and that was unacceptable to them, we should have backed off right then. We should have done nothing more. Then the crisis broke out on February 22nd 2014, we should have recognised the severity of the situation and we should have backed off and worked with the Russians to create some sort of modus vivendi where the Russians felt that they weren’t threatened by NATO in Ukraine, and that Ukraine could remain a neutral state.

But instead, what we did was, we doubled down. Okay. Then over the course of 2021 the situation deteriorated. And on December 17th 2021, the Russians sent the letter to NATO and to President Biden, demanding that they get in writing that Ukraine would not become part of NATO. What we should have done then is backed off and tried to work out some sort of modus vivendi where the Russians were satisfied with the situation in Ukraine and the threat of war was taken off the table.

Instead, we told the Russians, nothing is going to change. We are going to bring Ukraine into NATO. And we were working very hard to do that, despite the conventional wisdom in the West, which says we were not. We were working to bring Ukraine into NATO.

FS: What options are available in this post-conflict period or mid-conflict period? What are the realistic options now?

JM: There are no realistic options. We’re screwed.

FS: I mean, what does that mean? Practically though, we’re screwed. It means you believe the conflict is now destined to escalate or just destined to grind on?

JM: Well, both. It’s destined to grind on and both sides will continue to escalate, they have been escalating, they have been escalating. And where it all leads, it’s very hard to say. There’s no deal on the table that can be worked out here. There’s all this talk about the need for diplomacy. And I think diplomacy is a very important element of foreign policy and many American policymakers seem to have forgotten that and many people in the West now equate diplomacy with appeasement, which is remarkably foolish.

So I’m in favour of diplomacy in principle. But the question you have to ask yourself in this particular case, is if you do diplomacy, can you work out a deal? And my opinion is there’s no deal to be worked out. And both sides are going to fight this one out.

FS: Why? If John Mearsheimer is, by some miracle, appointed Secretary of State and you are in charge of negotiating a peace settlement, why can there not be some deal? The Russians are clearly suffering, they’re losing a lot of soldiers. It’s costing them dearly. They probably would like there to be some settlement that didn’t look too humiliating. Is there not still something along the lines of neutral zones or administered regions, some guarantee not to join NATO by Ukraine? Even though the Zelensky government would definitely not endorse that at the moment, is there not still, in theory, a peace deal to be done?

JM: Not really. There are two big issues here. One is neutral Ukraine. And then the other issue is the territorial one. The Russians have now annexed four oblasts in Ukraine. That’s a big chunk of Ukrainian territory. The Russians now believe that that territory belongs to them. Do you think the Russians are going to be willing to abandon that territory, in addition to Crimea? I don’t think that’s happening. I think the Russians have no intention of abandoning that territory. Certainly not all of it. The Ukrainians, for their part, insist on getting that territory back.

And the Americans would not be willing to concede that territory to the Russians, because it would appear to be a defeat for the West. The United States and its allies are in this one to win. We are deeply committed. For us to back off and give the Russians any major concessions is just unacceptable at this point.

That’s the territorial issue, then there’s the question of whether or not Ukraine is neutral. The Russians insist that Ukraine has to be neutral. The Ukrainians are now saying we’re willing to be neutral but we need a guarantee for our security from someone. Well, the only someone that can get her to Ukrainian security is really NATO, and specifically the United States.

Well, if the United States- China? No, that’s not in the cards. The Chinese are not a good guarantor of Ukraine’s security. That’s just too far fetched. And furthermore, they don’t have the military capability to do it. It’s the United States and its European allies. Right. But then Ukraine is a de facto member of NATO. And that’s unacceptable to the Russians. So there’s no way you’re going to get a truly neutral Ukraine that’s not affiliated with the West, it’s not going to happen. And the Russians are not going to accept that.

So what the Russians are going to do instead is they’re going to create, if they can, a dysfunctional rump state, and that’s what they’re doing now. That’s why they’ve taken all that territory, number one, and number two, that’s why they’re wrecking Ukraine.

FS: What’s quite frightening about what you’re saying is that actually, if there is no deal to be done, and the logic is that the conflict will just carry on, and eventually more doubling down. More escalation. More escalation. It seems from what you’re saying that you think we are headed towards some kind of escalated conflicts between the West and Russia. Whether that’s nuclear or not, he logic would seem, if neither side finds the current status acceptable, and both sides are refusing to concede that a bigger, much more dangerous conflict is inevitable.

JM:  Inevitable is too strong a word.  Likely is more correct. But I think your description of the present situation is right on the money. And the the two outcomes that we have to worry greatly about are one where the Russians use nuclear weapons. And two, where the United States comes into the fight, or the West comes into the fight, because then you have a great power war. The United States and Russia are actually fighting each other, and as Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence in the United States, told the Senate this past spring, the most likely scenario is for the Russians to use nuclear weapons if NATO comes into the fight. So this is very dangerous.

FS: So do you now think that some kind of nuclear event is likely?

JM:  Likely is too strong a word. The rhetoric I like to use is there’s a non-trivial chance that nuclear weapons will be used here. And let me tell you why I think that’s the case. If the Russians were to use nuclear weapons, the most likely scenario is that they would use them in Ukraine. And Ukraine does not have nuclear weapons of its own. So the Ukrainians would not be able to retaliate against the Russians with their own nuclear weapons. So that weakens deterrence.

Furthermore, if the Russians use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the West, and here we’re talking mainly about the United States is not going to retaliate with nuclear weapons against Russia, because that would lead to a general thermonuclear war.

FS: Is it certain? You think if Putin detonated an actual nuclear bomb within Ukraine, there would be no retaliation by the West?

JM: No, there would be no nuclear retaliation. Macron has said that, by the way. We would not retaliate with nuclear weapons. The great danger is that if the Russians used nuclear weapons in Ukraine that the West would retaliate with a massive conventional attack against Russian forces. David Petraeus, General Petraeus, has said that if the Russians attack with nuclear weapons inside Ukraine, we should take our conventional forces, NATO’s conventional forces and slam Russian conventional forces inside of Ukraine and Russian naval forces in the Black Sea.

If we were to do that, we would then have a great power war. NATO would be at war against Russia. And as Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence said, that is likely to lead to a nuclear war, because the Russians would not be able to stand up to the Americans and their allies.

FS: So what would you be advising, in the very unhappy event that Russia does launch some kind of nuclear strike within Ukraine, what do you think the wise response is?

JM: The wise response and I think the likely response is we would go to great lengths to immediately shut down the conflict. I think the use of nuclear weapons is what would shut down the conflict. It’s the only possibility. I’m not saying that would axiomatically happen. But it would become so clear, at that point in time, that we were in danger of creating a nuclear war between the superpowers that we would go to great lengths to shut it down.

That would focus the mind in ways that are hard to imagine in the current context. I mean, that’s a risk that we hope we don’t need to take. But we’re actually making it more and more likely. It’s very important to understand that the more successful that NATO and the Ukrainians are at defeating the Russians inside of Ukraine, and wrecking the Russian economy, the more successful we are, the more likely it is that they will use nuclear weapons.

And again, you do not want to underestimate what great powers will do when they’re desperate. I’ll just give you another example to highlight that. In late summer of 1945, the United States had defeated Japan. Japan was finished in the summer of 1945. And the United States was unable to get the Japanese to surrender. And we felt that there was a serious possibility we would have to invade the Japanese home islands with amphibious forces. And given the casualties we had suffered at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the last thing the Americans wanted to do was to invade the Japanese home islands. So given how desperate we were to avoid that outcome, invading the Japanese home islands, we were willing to drop two nuclear weapons on Japan. And of course, we were willing to do that, because Japan had no ability to retaliate with its own nuclear weapons against us.

The situation is somewhat analogous to the one that the Russians face in the circumstances where they are losing in Ukraine, and they are becoming desperate, they could think about using nuclear weapons in Ukraine against Ukraine, and not have to fear nuclear retaliation, because Ukraine does not have nuclear weapons of its own.

FS: I think you’re more sanguine than I would be that Western leaders would treat a nuclear event as cause to make peace and and de-escalate. I mean, you among Western leaders at the moment is all very moral. It’s very much about teaching lessons. And I find it unthinkable that they would allow exploding a nuclear device to be a way to win a war. You know, here in the UK, we’ve had three prime ministers in less than six months. And each one has recommitted to the Ukraine conflict, has immediately gone to see President Zelensky. It’s become very much a kind of Article of Faith of being a good person in politics. Now. Have you observed that? And how do you square that with the idea that they would be realistic in the event of a nuclear strike?

JM: Well, I understand exactly what you’re saying. And you may be correct, that Western leaders will retaliate with massive conventional attacks, or even with nuclear weapons, in the event that Russians use nuclear weapons inside Ukraine. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m right. It’s very difficult to predict where this war is headed. So I think there’s a serious chance that you’re right. And that scares me even more.

But the point I would make is that once nuclear weapons are used, it will become clear, I think, I hope, to all the policymakers in the West, that we have crossed a dangerous threshold, and that what has to be done now is that this war has to be brought to an end immediately before it spins out of control. I mean, you want to think about what the consequences are here. The consequences are that cities will be incinerated. We’re talking about a general nuclear war. That’s a possible outcome.

You just go back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and think about how JFK thought about dealing with the Soviets, and how the Soviets thought about the situation themselves. Both Khrushchev and Kennedy understood that this one had to be immediately shut down. We’re talking about the possibility of a war escalating to the nuclear level involving two countries, the United States and Soviet Union that have massive nuclear arsenals aimed at each other. Both leaders understood full-well, this conflict had to be shut down immediately.

What do we have today, we have a situation where there’s a war taking place where the Russians are deeply involved. And NATO is doing everything but pulling the triggers and pushing the buttons, this is a very dangerous situation. We should be doing everything possible to shut it down. But that’s not happening.

FS: What role do you feel that the UK has played in that because most of your focus is the US as the big gorilla in the room? But the UK has been a big part of the defence of Ukraine and and has been really leading the charge more than Germany, more than France and has been perhaps the most robust within Europe. Do you have any comment on the UK response? I think it’s been the most robust within Western Europe.

JM: In Eastern Europe, you have the Poles and the Baltic states, which have been every bit as enthusiastic about this war as the British have been. No, I think the British are major cheerleaders. They’re pushing the United States to continue its policies with regard to Ukraine and they’re strong allies in this enterprise. I think the British are being remarkably foolish, just like I think, the Poles, the Baltic states, and the Americans are being remarkably foolish.

FS: Let me ask you about Sweden and Finland. Would you have foreseen that they would ask to become members of NATO after this crisis, and do you think it’s a good or bad idea for them to do it?

JM: I didn’t foresee it, simply because there was no threat to them. The conventional wisdom in the West, is that the Russians were bent on conquering Ukraine, occupying Ukraine, and incorporating it into a greater Russia. And then when the Russians were done with Ukraine, they were going to conquer countries in Eastern Europe, like the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, so forth and so on. Putin is basically an imperialist in this story.

There is no evidence, zero evidence that Putin was interested in conquering Ukraine and absorbing it into a greater Russia. There is no evidence that he was interested in conquering any other country in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, if you look at Russian capabilities, what they’ve done in Ukraine, there is no reason to think that they had the capability or the intention of conquering Finland or Sweden or the Baltic states. This is a figment of the West’s imagination.

FS: So do you think it makes it more or less safe for Sweden and Finland to be within NATO?

JM: I think it makes it more dangerous. And the reason is that you’re encircling the Russians. There are three great powers in the world; the United States, China and Russia. China is a peer competitor of the United States. China is the real threat to the United States. That’s why we talked about a pivot to Asia. Russia is the weakest of those three great powers by far. Russia is not a threat to conquer Eastern Europe, to dominate all of Europe, the way the Soviet Union was after 1945. Russia does not equal the Soviet threat, period, right?

Therefore, you want to be very careful that you don’t put the Russians in a situation where they think their survival is threatened. They think that they’re being encircled, they understand that they are the weakest of the three great powers. And they understand that NATO has its gun sights on them. So when you bring Finland and Sweden into the Alliance, you bring Ukraine into the Alliance, right? You’re giving the Russians a sense that their survival is at risk, that they’re facing an existential threat. And that’s going to put them in the situation where they may feel desperate, and they may lash out in ways that lead to serious trouble.

So if anything, what we should be doing is backing off and working out some sort of modus vivendi. But instead, we’re doing exactly the opposite. There’s no reason for Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Except that they want to.

FS: The people in Sweden are frightened of Russia. They are very conscious of their proximity to Russia, there’s always fears of sightings of U-boats in Stockholm harbour and so on. It’s a big part of Swedish imagination and sense of their place in the world. And now they see what’s happened in Ukraine, they are seeking greater defence and that’s their reality. Would you say we should say no, to Sweden and Finland as NATO?

JM: I would say no, but that’s not going to happen. We have an open door policy. That’s what’s gotten us into trouble over Ukraine. We believe in the West that any country in Europe has the right. And that’s a very important word ‘has the right’ to join NATO. And we have been bringing in more and more countries since 1999. The first big tranche of course, was in ’99. The second big tranche was in 2004. That’s when the Baltic states, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and a handful of other countries came in. And then in 2008, that’s when we began to talk about the third big tranche, that’s when Georgia and Ukraine were gonna come in. Right, and we haven’t given up on that. And at the same time, now we’re talking about bringing Finland and Sweden in.

You know, the Americans have the Monroe Doctrine. I don’t know what you know about the Monroe Doctrine but the Monroe Doctrine basically says the Western Hemisphere is our backyard and no distant great power, which means no great power from Europe or from Asia is allowed to put military forces in the Western Hemisphere. No great power from Europe or Asia is allowed to form a military alliance with another country in the Western Hemisphere because from the American perspective, it’s intolerable to have a distant great power on our doorstep.

Well, the same basic logic applies to the Russians and to the Chinese by the way. From a Russian perspective, the idea that you’re going to have NATO right on your doorstep, and NATO is bringing in more and more countries that are part of this alliance, is going to be unacceptable to them. The Russians couldn’t stop NATO from expanding in ’99. They couldn’t stop it in 2004, because they were too weak.

And you know what happens as a good realist when you’re weak in international politics, other great powers take advantage of you. This is what happened to China in the late 1840s, to the late 1940s. The Chinese refer to this as their century of national humiliation. When you’re weak, other great powers take advantage of you. This is exactly what the Americans did with the Russians. Russia was weak after the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991. And we took advantage of the Russians, we shoved NATO expansion down their throat and ’99, we shoved it down their throat and 2004.

And we decided we were going to shove it down their throat again after 2008. Because we thought they were too weak to prevent it. Right. But the fact is, the Russians viewed this, eventually, as an existential threat, the idea of Ukraine in NATO was the brightest of all red lines for the Russians. And you see what is happening now. And if you think about the Monroe Doctrine, you should not be surprised how the Russians are reacting to what’s going on in Ukraine.

FS: I have two very quick questions, finally, for you on Ukraine, and then I’d love to talk about China for a moment. The first is, in the scenario that the West is currently talking about, which is what they say a good end goal looks like, which is essentially Russian retreat, some kind of non-escalation, humiliation of some kind, which Russia accepts. Maybe there’s a treaty, maybe there isn’t. But in other words, an ending that doesn’t lead to an escalation doesn’t lead to nuclear conflict and ends with a weakened Russia, with a bloody nose, sort of retreating to try and look after internal divisions and sort itself out. If that happens, will you then stand up and say, I was wrong? The West strategy, from a realist point of view has been successful.

JM: Of course. I want to be very clear here. I’m not arguing that I have the truth, that I am right. Nor is there absolutely no chance that this war won’t end the way you just described. International Politics operates in a world of what I would call radical uncertainty. It’s very hard to figure out what the future looks like, it’s very hard to make predictions. And that’s why when people say how likely is it that Russia would use nuclear weapons, and some people will say there’s a 30% chance or a 50% chance. There’s no way you can put precise numbers on the likelihood of nuclear use. You just can’t do it. We don’t have enough data to come up with precise predictions like that.

So I think, having said all that, that there is a possibility that the Russians will cave at some point. I think there’s a small possibility. I also think there’s a non-trivial chance that this will lead to nuclear war. And when you marry the consequences of nuclear war with the possibility, in my mind, that means you should be remarkably cautious.

And let me illustrate this by this analogy; If I have a gun, and the barrel has 100 chambers, okay. And I put five bullets in that barrel. And I say to you, Freddie, I’m gonna pull the trigger and put the gun up to your head, and I’m gonna pull the trigger. But don’t worry, there’s only a 5% chance that I will kill you. It’s only a 5% chance, or let’s assume I put one bullet in. And I tell you Friday, there’s only a 1% chance I’m going to kill you. And then I spin the barrel and I get ready to pull the trigger. The question you have to ask yourself is, are you going to be nervous? Are you going to be scared stiff? And the answer is you’re going to be scared stiff, even if there’s only one bullet and certainly if there are five bullets, right? So there’s a small probability that you will be killed. But given the consequences, you’re killed, you’re scared.

The consequences here involve nuclear war. So there only has to be a small probability that John is right. There can be an 80% probability that Freddie is right– that the West is right. That the West is right, and that the Russians will back off and surrender. It’s still not worth the risk. Of course not. This is what Kennedy and Khrushchev understood during the Cuban Missile Crisis. You can only push a great power armed with nuclear weapons so far.

This bothers many people in the West, they think they should be free to do whatever they want to the Russians. We should be free to wreck the Russian economy; make them pay a god awful price for what they have done. You can’t do that, because they have nuclear weapons. You might not like that. But it’s a fact of life that they have nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war is ever present.

FS: My final question on Ukraine before we move on, in a sense, it takes us back to the beginning, which is that moment, on February 24, when Russia invaded Ukraine, from the north, towards Kiev from the south, up from Crimea from the east, was shocking and stunning to many observers. A lot of your realist colleagues said it wouldn’t happen. There was a sense that this was an act so far beyond what we consider to be acceptable on the European continent, that the response had to be appropriate.

And then you say things like there is zero evidence that Russia wanted to conquer Ukraine. How do you square those? Most people observing that moment felt pretty confident that Russia wanted to conquer Ukraine, why are they wrong?  Is invading it from all corners and headed towards the capital not the signs and pretty good real life evidence of someone who wants to conquer a country? Isn’t that how you do it?

JM: No, you can’t conquer a country the size of Ukraine with 190,000 troops. They didn’t try to conquer all of Ukraine. They surrounded Kyiv and they invaded in the east and in the south. What do you think they were trying to do at that point? I think they were trying to get the Ukrainian government to basically change its policy vis-a-vis the West. They were trying to coerce the Ukrainian government into abandoning its policy of becoming a Western Bulwark on their border.

FS: Do you think they were hoping that the government would flee and fall in some way and they could work out some more friendly, puppet government?

JM: I don’t know for sure. I think that there’s evidence that they were negotiating shortly after the invasion, this is after the invasion. They were negotiating in Istanbul with the Ukrainians. And the issue that was on the table was Ukrainian neutrality. And it’s quite clear that what happened is that the United States operating through Boris Johnson made it clear to the Ukrainians that we didn’t want them to cut a deal with the Russians, because by late March, we were quite confident that we could beat the Russians in Ukraine. And the idea of cutting a deal, especially a deal that involved in neutral Ukraine, which is anathema to the West, was unacceptable to us.

FS: So you maintain now still, that there was no, there was no even hope for a kind of quick fall of the Ukrainian government in some kind of easy win.

JM: The Russians were not even hoping for a full conquering of that country. It’s very important to separate the different issues out here. The Russians invaded Ukraine with 190,000 troops at the very most, they made no effort to conquer all of Ukraine. They didn’t even come close. There is no way they could have conquered Ukraine with 190,000 troops. And they didn’t have the troops in reserve to do that. When the Germans invaded Poland, in 1939, they invaded with 1.5 million troops. That’s the size army you need to conquer a country like Ukraine, occupy it and then incorporate it into a greater Russia. You need a massive army.

This was a limited aim strategy. This was not a strategy that was designed to conquer Ukraine. I mean, it’s very hard to make that argument in the West at this point in time, because the propaganda, which says that Russia was intent on conquering all of Ukraine and absorbing into a greater Russia is so pervasive. But anybody who knows anything about military operations, knows that you couldn’t conquer and absorb Ukraine with 190,000 troops.

And so that issue has to be clearly established what they wanted, what the Russians have said they have wanted from the beginning is a neutral Ukraine. And if they can’t get a neutral Ukraine, what they’re going to do is create a dysfunctional rump state. And there’s no evidence that you’re going to get a neutral Ukraine, and what the Russians are doing is creating a dysfunctional rump state. They’ve taken a huge swath of territory in the east, these four oblasts, they’ve annexed those oblasts that are now part of Russia. And at the same time, they’re destroying Ukrainian infrastructure. They’re wrecking the Ukrainian economy. It’s sickening to see what’s happening to Ukraine.

And I want to make one final point on this. My argument is that if NATO had not expanded or tried to expand into Ukraine, if we in the West had not tried to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s borders, then today, Ukraine would be intact, there’d be no war, and Ukraine would be fine. There was no war in Ukraine before 2008. There was no problem of Russia conquering Ukraine before 2008 Even before 2014 Vladimir Putin came to power in the year 2000.

The crisis broke out on February 22nd 2014. Over those 14 years, nobody in the West was making the argument that Vladimir Putin was an imperialist. And that he was bent on conquering Ukraine and then conquering other countries in Eastern Europe and creating a greater Russia. Who was making that argument? That was an argument that we invented after February 22nd 2014. We in the West, we invented the argument that he’s an imperialist that he’s bent on conquering Ukraine. Why did we invent that argument, because a major crisis broke out on February 22nd 2014 and we were not going to blame ourselves, we had to blame him. So the story that we created was that he was an imperialist, and he is responsible. And we are the good guys. And they are the bad guys.

FS :Let’s turn our attention eastward, towards what is not yet a crisis, but many people think might be a crisis on the horizon, around Taiwan and China. Learning what we’ve learned from this conflict, what would you like to see the West’s approach to that issue be?

JM: Well, I have a fundamentally different view on China than I do on Russia. And therefore, my thinking about Taiwan is different than my thinking about Ukraine. I believe that China is a peer competitor of the United States, and that it is a threat to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the western hemisphere. And the United States does not tolerate other regional hegemons, we’re a regional hegemon in the western hemisphere.

And over time, we have gone to great lengths to prevent countries like Imperial Germany, Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union from dominating either Europe or Asia. From an American point of view, that’s unacceptable. And I think that’s correct. I think the United States should not want China to dominate Asia, the way we dominate the western hemisphere. So we’re going to go to great lengths to contain China. And for purposes of containing China, it is important for us to defend Taiwan.

And from a Chinese point of view, this is categorically unacceptable. Taiwan from a Chinese point of view, is sacred territory. And the fact that the West is preventing China from reincorporating Taiwan into its body politic is a cause of anger, real anger. So what’s happening here is that as the security competition between China and the United States ratchets up in East Asia, the United States becomes more committed than ever, to defending Taiwan, to keeping Taiwan allied with the United States and its other allies in East Asia, infuriating the Chinese more and more.

FS: So you have this intense security competition setting in and at the heart of that intense security competition is this potential point of conflict, Taiwan, that threatens to escalate and cause a war?  But I think viewers or listeners might be surprised to hear you on that, because in a sense, is the opposite of your view of the Russia question. That even though China is a regional hegemon and Taiwan is whether they consider it part of Greater China or whether it’s just too close to have allied with a foreign power, there is a parallel to Ukraine and Russia, that in that example, you think it would be worth… It is in the strategic interests of the US to actually send forces, risk a greater escalation, and actually go to a war if necessary, to defend Taiwan.

JM: Yeah, I think the situation with China is a lot like the situation with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. I believe the United States had a deep-seated interest in preventing the Soviet Union from dominating all of Europe and dominating all of Asia. For sure, the Soviet Union was a peer competitor of the United States. And I think the United States has a vested interest in making sure that it is the only regional hegemon of the planet and that the Soviet Union, not dominate Europe.

With regards to Russia today, as I said earlier, Russia is by far the weakest of the three great powers, it is no threat to dominate all of Europe or Asia, and therefore, the United States doesn’t have to pay much attention to Russia. China, on the other hand, is a peer competitor. It’s not a regional hegemon yet. What the United States has to do, in my opinion, is prevent it from becoming a regional hegemon. And the problem that we face is that Taiwan is of enormous strategic importance to us. We have a deep-seated interest in defending Taiwan for strategic reasons. And the Chinese, on the other hand, again, view this as sacred territory, and this is what makes this such a dangerous situation.

But I think about China much differently than I think about Russia. So in fact, philosophically, then it’s not the kind of realism that you espouse. It’s not a kind of shrug your shoulders, real politik; there’s lots of different poles of power and they will be competing for interest and we need to just minimise conflict.

FS: You actually think this Russia adventure is a distraction from the core threat to United States power. So it’s not that you’re kind of anti-war guy. You’re actually saying, let’s not waste resources on this distraction or potential new threat when we’ve got a bigger one in the form of China.

JM: You’re exactly right. But it’s worse than that. Not only are we focusing great attention on Eastern Europe, when we should be pivoting to Asia in a serious way, we are also driving the Russians into the arms of the Chinese. If you think about the fact that we live in a world where there are three great powers today, the United States, China and Russia, and you think about the fact that China is the peer competitor, what the United States should be doing is aligning itself with Russia against China.

And the Russians, when I have gone to Russia in the past, have always wondered why we were antagonising both the Russians and the Chinese when they thought it was in our interest to be allies, the Russians and the Americans against China. I of course, agree with them. But what we have foolishly done, we meaning the Americans, is we have driven the Russians into the arms of the Chinese. At the same time, we have gotten bogged down in Eastern Europe, when we should be focusing instead on East Asia.

FS: And do you think that Russia plus China pole, if indeed that becomes a kind of new centre, is an existential threat to the US? I mean, do you think China with Russia attached to it in some way, fundamentally changes the calculus and makes the US supremacy less likely?

JM: Not really. I think what concerns me more than anything, is China dominating Asia. I think my great fear is that if China continues to grow economically, and it dominates in the development of cutting edge technologies, that it will become at least as powerful, if not more powerful than the United States, will end up dominating Asia, and will cause the United States all sorts of problems around the globe.

FS: Do you think the US will realise some of this in time? And do you think there’s a chance that kind of pivot of attention happens anyway? And that this sort of level of commitment to the situation in eastern Europe dwindles over time as more voices are becoming anxious about China? Do you think that’s a likely outcome?

JM: I argued before February 24th, that was a likely outcome. I’m not sure I believe that anymore, to be honest. The United States is now so deeply committed to the war in Ukraine, that it’s hard to see it backing off anytime soon. And there’s another dimension to this that links the China threat with the Russia threat. If the United States were to lose the war in Ukraine, if the Russians were to prevail, it would be a devastating defeat for America’s reputation. And this would have consequences in all likelihood, in East Asia, it’s hard to say what those consequences would be. But the Chinese would see that the Americans lost against Russia, which is far weaker relative to the United States than China is relative to the United States.

And there’s a possibility that would cause us real trouble in East Asia. So the reputational costs of losing in Ukraine, make it likely that we will stay till the bitter end. This getting back to our earlier discussion is one of the reasons I think it’s going to be so difficult to shut this war down. One of the reasons it’s hard to see what a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine war is, because you want to remember any meaningful diplomatic solution that the Russians accept, will appear to be a Russian victory to people in the West and to people in Ukraine. And the the perception of a Russian victory has again reputational consequences in East Asia.

FS: You recently visited Hungary. I read a recent interview where someone brought this up and you weren’t so keen to talk about it. Am I okay to ask you about it? Oh, sure. Why did you go to Hungary? You spend some time with Viktor Orbán there, why did you go and what did you learn?

JM: Well, my last book, The Great Delusion has been translated into Hungarian. And I was invited to Hungary by the publisher to talk about the book. And so I agreed to do that. And then before I went, I got a note from the publisher set that said that the Viktor Orbán would like to talk to me, would I be willing to talk to him? And I said, of course, I’d be willing to talk to him. So I went to Hungary, I gave a public lecture on the book. I did another event on the book. And then I met with all sorts of people, including Viktor Orbán, the prime minister, and the President of Hungary and other policymakers when I was there.

It was actually quite interesting to be there. Just to go to Viktor Orbán for a second, I was very interested in talking to him for two reasons. One, I was interested in hearing his views on Ukraine, and how he thinks about Ukraine, and how his views compare to the views of other European leaders and where he thought this was all headed. But I was also very interested in talking to him about nationalism and liberalism, the relationship between those two ‘isms’, this is one of the central themes in my book, The Great Delusion. And it’s a subject I plan to write more on.

What I have in common with Orbán is he thinks nationalism is a very important force, obviously, and I agree with him. But where I disagree with him is I think that liberalism is a very powerful force, and it’s all for the good. He, on the other hand, detests liberalism. So what he sees is liberalism and nationalism as polar opposites, and he favours nationalism, and wants to crush liberalism. I, on the other hand, see nationalism and liberalism as two ideologies that differ in important ways, but nevertheless, can coexist.

And I live in liberal America. Nationalism is alive and well in the United States and liberalism is alive and well in the United States. So I think those two ‘isms’ can coexist. He thinks they’re polar opposites. So I was very interested in exploring that issue with him. And then finally, I was interested in just sort of figuring out, when I went to Hungary, where Europe is headed, because if you look at what’s happened in Europe, over the past decade or so, you see lots of evidence that illiberal democracies are beginning to come to the fore.

Such as in Hungary, such as in Poland. If you look at the recent vote in Sweden, the recent vote in Italy. So, you want to sort of understand where Europe is headed, I think is very important issue. And, and I think that, you know, talking to someone like Viktor Orbán for three hours is very enlightening about all these different subjects.

FS: On Ukraine? Because he sort of seems to have shifted somewhat on Ukraine. In the beginning, I think people were surprised how strongly he rejected the Russian incursion, and there was just absolutely unambiguous opposition to it. And he now seems to have evolved into positioning himself more as a kind of potential deal maker with Russia. Is that fair? Do you think?

JM: Well I think, yes. I think in the beginning, he was very nervous about the possibility of Russian expansion into Hungary. Given Hungary’s experience with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, you can understand why the Hungarians and indeed every country in Eastern Europe was initially very nervous about the Russian attack into Ukraine on February 24th. But my sense is, and this is just my sense, is that he quickly understood that the Russians were not going to conquer all of Ukraine. They were not going to conquer Hungary, and that this war was going to end up doing great damage to Hungary and to Europe in general. And I think he’s correct on that.

FS: Does he see himself as a potential peace-maker? Was there any talk of what a deal might look like?

JM: No, I had no sense that he saw himself as a potential deal-maker, or that he knew exactly what might work. He may think there is a diplomatic solution. I don’t think there is a diplomatic solution. I think it’s clear that he is in favour of diplomacy. I mean, if you think about the situation in Poland and the situation in Hungary, the Polish government and the Hungarian government have had very friendly relations until recently. And what changed it was the Russian invasion of Ukraine, because the poles are remarkably hardline on the Ukrainian war. And the Hungarians are not. The Hungarians want to put an end to this.

FS: They’re much less likely to blame the Russians for the problem and more prone to blaming, NATO in the West? Do you worry at all about your own reputation in this, from being a purely an academic or an investigator or commentator? If you now have meetings with Prime Ministers, such as Viktor Orbán who are thought of as being much more pro-Russian than other European leaders? Do you worry that people might start thinking of you more of an actor, slash activist in this, rather than just an observer?

JM: Well, I’m not an activist, I’m an academic, I’m a scholar. And this, in a very important way, is part of my research, right? My goal is to understand what’s going on in Europe, what’s going on in places like Ukraine, and explain to people what my theories say about events, so that we can think smartly about these issues and make smart policies. So I don’t see why anybody would object to me talking to Viktor Orbán. I’m not condoning Viktor Orbán’s policies or condemning them. I’m simply talking to him to understand what is going on in his mind and what is going on in Hungary and what is going on in Europe more generally.

If you’re a journalist, and you decide that you’re going to write a major article for a major newspaper on illiberal democracies, and you have an opportunity to talk to Viktor Orbaán for three hours, are you as a journalist not going to do that? Of course, you jump at the opportunity to talk to Viktor Orbán because it would make your research and your article that much better. So as a scholar, an opportunity to talk to Viktor Orbán about subjects that are of great importance is an opportunity that you should jump at, and I jumped at it.

So I talk to all sorts of people. I have graduate students, I had two brilliant graduate students in the past, who studied the Taliban, and who studied ISIS. And both of them, or each of them, talk to the Taliban and ISIS members, respectively. This makes perfect sense. Would you say that those graduate students who are working on the Taliban or working on ISIS shouldn’t talk to people in the Taliban, shouldn’t talk to people in ISIS? Of course, you wouldn’t argue that.

And the fact that people are trying to sort of smear me because I talked to Viktor Orbán is hardly surprising in the context that we now operate, because people are really not that interested these days and talking about facts and logic. What they prefer to do is to smear people who they disagree with. So I’m hardly surprised that people, not many people, but a few people went after me for talking to Viktor Orbán, but that’s the price you pay when you operate in the fast lane in the West at this point in time.

FS: Let me ask you to sum up if we could here and we we’ve covered a huge amount of ground and thank you so much for your time today. If we zoom out, it looks like we are headed towards a much more multipolar world in the coming decades, the coming generation, the era of the, so called, end of history era, the era of unipolar American global dominance, the sense that liberal democracies were expanding forever outwards is decisively passed or on the way out. Do you think this new, more multipolar world is here to stay? And do you think it’s a good thing?

JM: I think it’s definitely here to stay. And I think it’s more dangerous than the Cold War was. Let me tell you how I think about this. I was born and raised during the Cold War, and the world was bipolar at that point in time. Then in 1989, with the end of the Cold War and certainly in December 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, we went from a bipolar world to a unipolar world. Then around 2017, we transitioned from a unipolar world to a multipolar world, right?

So during the Cold War, we had the United States in the Soviet Union. During the Unipolar Moment, you just had the one pole the United States. And today, you have three great powers, the United States, China, and Russia. Now, you could not have great power politics in the unipolar world, because there was only one great power. And by definition there were no two great powers that could compete with each other.

What we have today, with the US-China competition in East Asia, and the US-Russia competition, mainly over Ukraine, is we have two conflict dyads. In very important ways, they’re separate conflict dyads US, China, US Russia. No conflict is in the Unipolar Moment, and one conflict dyad during the Cold War: US-Soviet, involving great powers.

I would argue that not only do you have two instead of one, each one of those dyads is more dangerous than the conflict dyad in the Cold War. As we’ve talked about today, the United States and Russia are almost at war in Ukraine, and we can hypothesise plausible scenarios, where the United States ends up fighting against Russia, in Ukraine.

And then we talked about the US-China competition and the problems associated with Taiwan. And Taiwan is not the only flashpoint in East Asia. There’s also the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Korean peninsula. Right. So you can imagine a war breaking out between the United States and China in East Asia, and a war breaking out in Ukraine involving the United States and Russia, I think more easily than you could imagine a war breaking out during the Cold War in Europe, or in East Asia involving the United States and the Soviet Union.

So I think we live in more dangerous times today than we did during the Cold War, and certainly than we did during the unipolar moment. And I think, if anything, this situation is only going to get worse for reasons that you and I have talked about regarding Ukraine, as well as Taiwan.

FS: Professor John Mearsheimer, thank you so much for your time today. That was Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, the now world famous foreign policy realist, defending his view that the war in Ukraine is primarily the fault of the US and the West, and giving a pretty bleak forecast of how it might all play out. I tried to push back on occasion, but ultimately, as always, it’s up to you to decide if you found his arguments, convincing or not. Thanks for tuning in. This was UnHerd.

Trudeau’s Crippled Canada

 

Joe Oliver writes at Financial Post: Resolution for 2023: It does not have to be this way.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

Canada is hurting because of big missed opportunities,
misguided priorities and counter-productive policies

Canada is hurting because of big missed opportunities, misguided priorities and counter-productive policies. The evidence, a sad litany of failures, is there for all to see. But it hasn’t yet generated a collective determination to correct course and do better as a nation. The public has been flooded with government and media talking points designed to convince them their problems are due either to external forces or to the pursuit of laudable goals, especially regarding climate. As a result, many Canadians, though not happy with their current plight, are actually forgiving, even if common sense screams out for transformative change.

The National Post’s First Reading newsletter recently detailed some of the country’s most vexing problems. Over half of Canadians are worried about putting food on the table, 60 per cent about being able to buy gasoline and 40 per cent about paying their mortgage or rent. Wait times to see a specialist after a referral have hit an alarming 27 weeks, compared to “just” nine weeks in 1993. More than half of young Canadians have experienced difficulty accessing mental health services. That only 20 per cent of trans and non-binary youths have is a positive, but stands in contrast with the low consideration accorded young non-trans, non- binary males by the medical system.

Social harmony has been undermined by a prime minister prone to maligning groups whose views he deplores and who is focused on identity politics and systemic racism, even though our country is an exemplar of tolerance. In western Canada, destructive federal policies have deepened resentment, leading to Alberta’s Sovereignty Act, much maligned by a Laurentian Elite seemingly untroubled by the stark double standard with Quebec. Canada’s international influence has waned, which is hardly surprising, since we have long been a free-rider militarily. Now, when we could be making a real difference to European allies desperate for natural gas, we are unable to deliver.

Ottawa’s unprecedented fiscal profligacy exacerbated global inflationary pressures, generated record debt levels, betrayed recent promises to contain out-of-control spending and imposed an onerous financial burden on pensioners, struggling middle-class families, first-time home buyers, younger workers and the next generation. Auditor-general Karen Hogan just uncovered an astonishing $37 billion dollars in COVID relief payments that may have been undeserved. Interest rates are projected to drive up annual debt charges to $53 billion by 2024, $8 billion more than total forecast military expenditures. That should remind the Liberal government it cannot borrow its way to prosperity, even when interest rates are low — which they aren’t anymore. A global recession is looming due to rates hikes by central banks, including the Bank of Canada, who are trying to wrestle inflation back to the targeted two per cent, though so far unsuccessfully.

To justify enormous expenditures and punishing taxes Canadians are endlessly bombarded with apocalyptic climate scaremongering whose main effect is to terrify children and convince the credulous. Even though Canada cannot make a measurable difference to the global climate, the Liberals doggedly push a net-zero agenda that will cost $2 trillion by 2050. Meanwhile, global GHG emissions continue to rise because very few countries are walking the walk, in spite of their virtue signaling, and developing countries, who generate two-thirds of global emissions, are moving in the opposite direction, with non-OECD countries hitting a record for coal consumption last year.

Europe, which is coping with its worst energy crisis since WWII,
should be a cautionary tale for Canadians.

Natural gas there is six times the cost in the U.S. U.K. electricity bills are the highest in the world, creating pressure for a referendum on net zero. Germany is dismantling wind turbines to access coal mines. According to the Daily Telegraph, Switzerland is mulling proposals to restrict electric car trips in order to deal with the energy shortage.

Europe’s crisis is policy-driven, based on the chimera that
intermittent wind and solar can power the continent without fossil fuels.

The result has been energy poverty, compromised national security, de-industrialization and movement of carbon production to other countries — with no reduction in net global emissions. There are parallels in Canada, which suffers from a lost opportunity to reduce emissions by supplying natural gas to Asia and Europe as a substitute for coal and to fund critical social programs like healthcare and education. Yet most Canadians do not see the link between hallway medicine and blocking the construction of pipelines to tidewater, thereby precluding the sale of oil and gas to overseas markets.

Liberal policies derive from a dysfunctional admixture of socialism, progressivism, woke-ism, the Great Reset and climate alarmism. Their default position is to prioritize big government over economics, science and common sense. Even if voters don’t see through government messaging, destructive policies will eventually come home to roost. Unfortunately, a lot of needless pain will have been inflicted by then.

Joe Oliver was minister of natural resources and minister of finance in the Harper government.

 

To Understand J6/21, See Omissions Not in Report

Julie Kelly provides a helpful guide in her American Greatness article What to Watch For In January 6 Report.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

The omissions will be more telling about what really happened on January 6, 2021
than what’s actually in the report.

After several delays, the January 6 select committee will belatedly release the full findings of its 18-month “investigation” into the Capitol protest on Wednesday. Controversy over the contents of the final report led to infighting among staff. Strong-arming by lame duck Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who wanted to focus almost exclusively on the conduct of Donald Trump and omit criticism of law enforcement, prompted some investigators to quit the committee in protest.

Family quarrels were set aside just in time for Christmas. Committee members will gift the Biden regime and news media with a stocking stuffed with all things January 6—shiny toys for all the naughty girls and boys desperate to sustain outrage over a four-hour political disturbance that took place nearly two years ago. Visions of perp walks now dance in their heads.

The public, however, should brace for a blizzard of false accusations, cherry-picked quotes, uncorroborated testimony, and twisted interpretations of the law to substantiate the claim that Trump engineered an “insurrection” in a vain attempt to remain in office. And contrary to the first narrative that gripped regime mouthpieces—that the president incited the crowd with his speech at the Ellipse that afternoon—Trump’s “attempted coup,” as the committee describes the events of January 6, is now said to have been months in the making.

But like the drunk uncle at Christmas dinner, committee members had to spoil their own surprise gift (to the extent any exists in the report) by holding their last performance Monday to announce criminal referrals against Trump for insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy, and perjury.

Persuading the Department of Justice, now functioning under the ruse of an “independent” special counsel, to charge Trump won’t be too difficult. It will take a bit more heavy lifting to convince the American people that the wide-ranging investigation is a truth- and justice-seeking mission rather than an extension of the nonstop (now stretching over the better part of a decade) crusade to destroy Trump and everyone around him.

If early leaks about what to expect in the final report are accurate, Cheney got her way.

Seven of eight chapters will fixate on Trump’s role with little attention paid to how powerful federal and local agencies failed to prevent what happened. The last installment will give an “analysis of the attack on the Capitol,” according to Politico, contrary to early promises made by the committee.

So, what should thinking people look for in the pending report? Here is a partial list:

Identity of the pipe bomber:

The alleged discovery of two explosive devices outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee just blocks from the Capitol—and, conveniently, about 15 minutes before the joint session convened—set off the first wave of panic on January 6. Investigators claimed the pipe bombs had been planted the night before; the FBI promised a full-fledged inquiry and offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

The story took a turn for the worse when prosecutors admitted in court that Kamala Harris had been inside the DNC building when police seized the device, which the FBI claimed was viable and lethal. Certainly, law enforcement would spare no resource in hunting down the perpetrator who could have assassinated a sitting U.S. senator and incoming vice president?

But that didn’t happen, and the case went cold quickly. General media interest also waned as reporters, including Revolver News’ Darren Beattie, raised troubling questions about aspects of the official story.

The January 6 select committee spent zero time exploring the potential mass casualty event during televised hearings; no witnesses or law enforcement officials publicly testified with an update into the investigation—including Steven D’Antuono, the former head of the Washington FBI field office who led the probe into the pipe bomber. He retired from the bureau on November 30 shortly after House Republicans included his name on a list of interviewees.

The role of the FBI:

Which leads to the next big question: Did the panel interrogate anyone at the FBI, including D’Antuono? Since the Justice Department, according to a Senate report, was the lead agency responsible for the federal response to January 6, how did the FBI miss all the warning signs that the committee pieced together?

The question is even more urgent with confirmation that the bureau embedded several informants in two so-called “militias” months before January 6. This should outrage committee members and lawmakers who insisted their lives were in danger that afternoon. Oddly, no one has expressed anger at FBI Director Christopher Wray for failing to protect Capitol grounds. Committee members have not condemned Wray for dropping the ball or demanded accountability.

To the contrary—when Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) twice asked Wray during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in November whether his agency planted informants disguised as Trump supporters inside the building before the breach on January 6, Wray was rescued from answering the question by Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the same Democrat who also chairs the January 6 committee.

And there is still no clarity from the FBI about whether informants engaged in or provoked violent behavior on January 6; when asked the question by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), FBI Executive Assistant Director Jill Sanborn refused to answer.

If committee members didn’t bother to interview Wray, D’Antuono and Sanborn or ask any official to explain the many failures related to January 6, the public—and congressional Republicans—should become even more wary about the FBI’s suspected behind-the-scenes role in fomenting what happened that day.

Ray Epps and other uncharged provocateurs:

In one of the weirdest spectacles of the past two years, committee members immediately jumped to the defense of Ray Epps, the ubiquitous January 6 protester who remains uncharged to this day. Reporters, social media influencers, and Republican lawmakers wondered aloud why Epps remained a free man more than a year later when so many others involved in less provocative behavior had been arrested.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) strangely branded the questions surrounding Epps a “conspiracy.” A committee spokesman issued a statement dismissing suspicions Epps was an FBI asset. “The Select Committee has interviewed Mr. Epps [who] informed us that he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on January 5th or 6th or at any time.” After a year of describing J6ers as “insurrectionists” and “domestic terrorists,” suddenly Epps was merely a “Jan. 6 protest attendee,” Kinzinger insisted.

Committee members promised to release Epps’ transcribed interview as part of the report—if it’s heavily redacted or omitted entirely, House Republicans should move to interview him next month.

Epps isn’t the only uncharged provocateur. As I wrote in November 2021, dozens of individuals wearing neon hats and tape have not been charged, either. Who were they?

Lack of security:

Despite open-source evidence that hundreds of thousands of Americans planned to attend Trump’s speech that day, local and federal law enforcement agencies did not order more officers on duty that day. Many Capitol protesters told me they had never before seen such a lack of police presence in the city—an inexplicable situation considering all the violent assaults by antifa and Black Lives Matter activists against Trump supporters throughout 2020 in Washington.

Will the committee report finally explain why the Capitol Police Board, the agency in charge of Capitol security, repeatedly denied requests for extra help? Will the document include records from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the top lawmakers tasked with keeping the grounds protected? What about correspondence between those offices, Capitol police, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the D.C. Metropolitan police department?

And what about Joe Maher, a longtime Cheney family friend who was head of the Department of Homeland Security office responsible for sharing threat information with law enforcement partners on January 6? Yahoo News recently reported that a DHS analyst alerted the office about an online plan detailing an “attack on the Capitol” but Maher did nothing with it. Maher, however, wasn’t fired for malfeasance—he was hired as an investigator for the committee by none other than Liz Cheney.

So . . . did Maher investigate himself?

Odds and Ends:

Will the committee authorize the full release of thousands of hours of video captured by security cameras on January 6? Will the public finally see all the text messages deleted by top Secret Service agents before and after January 6? Did the committee assemble excessive force investigations for police officers seen on video attacking protesters outside the building—including the unauthorized use of nonlethal munitions such as flashbangs? Did anyone interview Lt. Michael Byrd, the Capitol cop who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt? What about the deaths of three other Trump supporters that day? Did investigators obtain arrest records of those accused of carrying rifles around the capital that day?

The full report will be epic in size and scope. (A 160-page executive summary was released Monday afternoon.) But what isn’t in the report will be more telling about what really happened on January 6, 2021, than what’s actually in it.

Corrupt Fourth Estate (News Media)

 

Overview

France under the Ancien Régime (before the French Revolution) divided society into three estates: the First Estate (clergy); the Second Estate (nobility); and the Third Estate (commoners). The king was considered part of no estate.  In the 19th century, fourth estate came to refer exclusively to the press, and now it’s applied to all branches of the news media. 

In the United States, the term fourth estate is sometimes used to place the press alongside the three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. The fourth estate refers to the watchdog role of the press, one that is important to a functioning democracy.

The Fifth Estate is a socio-cultural reference to groupings of outlier viewpoints in contemporary society, and is most associated with bloggers, journalists publishing in non-mainstream media outlets, and the social media or “social license”.

As discussed below, the Fourth Estate has been corrupted,
suborned by political ideology,
while parts of the Fifth Estate have also lost their independence.

Rex Murphy writes at National Post The Hunter Biden story should make us think twice about censorship.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds. and added images.

There’s a lesson for Canadians in the shocking Twitter Files revelations

You’ve been hearing a lot about misinformation from the present government. And disinformation, which is simply a respelling of the same word brought in by those pushing for censorship (they call it by a different name) to pump up their case that there’s a huge need for government oversight of all online information sources, particularly blogs, independent reporters and independent news agencies.

I think it is an axiom that the very last authority anybody wants to be deciding what is real or true news, and what is not, is a government. As it is also an axiom, or used to be, that the press and the government exist as opposed categories, that a democratic press in particular has a predominantly oppositional role to state authority.

It questions, tests, investigates and challenges. At least it used to. But that was a distant yesterday. Today the press, or what we may call the institutional or mainline press, is suffering a mighty loss of trust. Many major outlets are seen by the public, and in very many cases should so be seen, as having adopted partisan or ideological roles, reporting only what coincides with owners’ or editors’ or reporters’ own predispositions, party affiliations and personal biases.

The biggest story in the 2020 presidential race — let me rephrase that, what I think should have been the biggest story — was the New York Post’s report on Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. The Post had obtained the contents of a forgotten laptop (it was left at a computer repair shop) that appeared to belong to Hunter Biden. It contained much salacious material. If anything comparable had shown up on a laptop belonging to Donald Trump Jr., the story would have been blasted on every television screen in America and treated to 24-hours-a-day coverage on National Public Radio.

The New York Post’s story, however headlined, was not the salacious stuff but the more significant news that — possibly — Hunter Biden had used his father’s influence to enrich himself in foreign business dealings. The online headline went: “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad.”

I have to skip a lot of details here. They are easily found. Now this story was near the end of the presidential election campaign. It had, if confirmed, the power to explode the race. But, almost instantly, it was smothered, ignored by all the big outlets, condemned as likely Russian disinformation. Since then, it is very important to record, the same outlets have verified that much of what the New York Post reported was correct.

The most egregious action was taken by the multibillion-dollar Twitter organization.
It disabled the New York Post’s account.

A useful summary of what was involved comes in a recent column from Douglas Murray: The Post “dared to print information that was of public interest. It was information that exposed corruption on an extraordinary scale in what is now the first family. Not just the president’s son being paid to sit on the board of a Ukrainian energy company when he had no knowledge of energy or Ukraine. But things like the almost $5 million that Hunter and his Uncle James raked in over 14 months from just one Chinese energy conglomerate.”

That’s what Twitter, joined by Facebook, suppressed and actively censored. It closed down a whole newspaper’s feed and labelled it as misinformation — as well as closing down the account of the White House press secretary. And the most smug outlet of all, NPR, at the time, had the gall to publish this prissy dismissal from its public editor: “We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”

Need I add that later, much later, well after the election, pious NPR issued a “correction” to an online article that had falsely asserted U.S. intelligence had discredited the laptop story.

Jump ahead to today. Thanks to the Elon Musk takeover, the machinations of Twitter, its manipulations and biases, its patrolling of accounts, its secret monitoring, shadow-banning or full shutdown of conservative viewpoints, is now clear and utterly undeniable. And scandalous in the full sense.

This revelation is itself huge news. It reveals the lie behind the drive to oversee the internet under the guise of protecting the public from misinformation. Because in addition to Twitter doing its own censoring, it also established contact with U.S. government and political actors. It was one big circle. Big government and big tech in collusion.

And, just to note the obvious: while the New York Post was being censored, you could hunt Canadian outlets — say the CBC — for news and reaction and find nothing. Should it have been Donald Trump Jr. involved, the panels and pundits would still be talking about it. Also, check Canadian outlets today for how much coverage this Twitter scandal gets.

Here’s a clue: when authorities talk about misinformation, they are spreading misinformation. And when the “most transparent administration in Canadian history” (just who was in that $6,000-a-night hotel room? Still waiting …) talks about “protecting the public” from misinformation, well, you have a choice: either laugh or cry.

Footnote: 

Liberals cite privacy laws when asked which media outlets got its $600M bailout.

The Trudeau government is citing confidentiality and “taxpayer information” to hide from the public which legacy media companies accepted money from its $600 million media bailout.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the Revenue Agency withheld the details of the cash payments in response to an Inquiry of Ministry tabled in the House of Commons.

Very few federal payments to media have been disclosed since the bailout was first crafted. 

Critics of the bailout including CWA Canada president Martin O’Hanlon called the program “heavily skewed” toward favoured papers.

“This is skewed heavily in favour of entrenched newspapers and their managers,” said O’Hanlon. “If this was supposed to be open and transparent, I don’t think that happened here. They chose the people they wanted to get the answers they wanted.”

More from American Thinker

Stick a fork in Canada

At this point, media companies become nothing more than state media outlets, mouthpieces of government, akin to Pravda or the Korean Central News Agency. They have abandoned all pretense of objectivity, neutrality, and “journalistic ethics” and simply voluntarily opted to be the propaganda arm of a political party. In Canada’s case, it’s the Liberal Party — in America’s, the Democrat party.

In days of yore, the Fourth Estate claimed that its job was to “speak truth to power.” Today, it is happy suckling on the government’s teat while hiding the truth from everyone still naïve or dumb enough to believe it.

Incredibly, in 2019, Canuck prime minister Justin Trudeau made an election-year promise that the Liberals would give the nation’s legacy media $595 million in federal assistance over four years. (And he won, proving that far too many Canadians’ brains are permanently frozen.) So much for a “free press.” And this is a kind of “feedback loop,” with a propagandizing press preventing people from accessing and processing unbiased, accurate information. Separation of church and state? How about separation of media outlets and state when “liberals” are in power?

After prevailing in the election, the Trudeau government promptly amended Canada’s Income Tax Act to allow for 25-percent payroll rebates to news companies, a measure subsequently approved by the minister of revenue.

The beat rolls on.

Dr. Li-Meng Yan: President Xi Jinping’s China

As noted in a previous post linked later on, Dr. Li-Meng Yan was one of the first to make the case for WuFlu created and released from Wuhan, China. Derided at the time (2020), she is now vindicated and goes further to explain current events in China, as reported in UncoverDC.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Dr. Li-Meng Yan graciously agreed to speak with UncoverDC for two hours on Tuesday about President Xi’s terrifying grip on mainland China. Dr. Yan says Xi is, for all intents and purposes, now the “Emperor” of China, a “sociopath” who has been consolidating power for many years. Dr. Yan flew to the U.S. from Hong Kong, where she worked in a prominent virology lab at the University of Hong studying coronaviruses and other emerging viral diseases under Malik Peiris on April 28, 2020. Yan says she has a “duty” to inform the world about the dangers of Communist China under Xi Jinping.

Peiris is a powerful, CCP-linked virologist at The University of Hong Kong. In 2003, Professor Peiris and his research team “discovered SARS-CoV, a novel coronavirus, as the etiological agent for SARS.” Through her trustworthy network of mainland China friends and colleagues, Dr. Yan began to investigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2. She is exposing how Xi purposely allowed the highly transmissible virus to travel outside China, crushing Western economies and killing many people unnecessarily. She claims the virus was well-coordinated by the PLA in China and was not limited to the lab in Wuhan. Yan communicated anonymously with a Chinese broadcaster based in the West whose channel is Lude media. He helped her get the word out through his broadcasts.

Dr. Yan says there is no doubt that the pandemic is indirectly responsible for the current protests in response to the lockdowns in China. However, she clarifies that while the press—both in China and in Western countries—are reporting the lockdowns are because of reinstated COVID policies, she says the lockdowns have “nothing to do with COVID.” During the pandemic, it became brutally clear to the mainland Chinese that President Xi’s draconian Zero Covid policies were “anti-human” and really had very little to do with protecting the people of China. Rather, she says Xi used the pandemic as a way to further extend and tighten his grip on the country. Dr. Yan explains:

“It is not COVID at all. SARS-CoV-2 is a weapon, a weapon more powerful than traditional bioweapons. So you see that it was released to foreign countries. It created a lot of social problems and chaos, and when it happened in China, it actually gave Xi great pretext to launch this very strict policy to restructure China’s society, its culture, and its people.

I believe Xi Jinping is using the People’s Liberation Army now to transform China from a peaceful time to wartime policies. It is a period of reformation. He is reinforcing his power with policies to control people, minimize people’s living standards, concentrate the money in his favor in places like the biomedical technology and weapons industry. He is training people to become obedient to listen to these ridiculous anti-human rules. This type of policy has been adopted by emperors in China going back 2000 years. Xi Jinping is using it in a modern way. “

Xi’s social credit system is used masterfully to control the movement of citizens. It is a “digital cuff.” Those who have cell phones are tracked and monitored no matter where they go. They are forced to use a “traffic light system,” red for no-go zones, or to indicate an individual does not have permission to move. Green means you are free to move about based on whether you have been tested or, many times, whether you “know the right local authorities.” It is human-tracked, which means there are people, local police, volunteers, and Party members who monitor and control all movement. Elderly people who do not know how to use the digital system are tracked on paper at checkpoints. Cameras are collecting biometric data everywhere. The tracking system is everywhere, not just in big cities. This policy is a “national strategy,” just like the “one-child policy.”

Additionally, President Xi recruited people all over China who wear white PPE-type uniforms. These enforcers are called “Big Whites,” and they enforce the lockdowns and movement of Chinese citizens. Big Whites are civilians hired with the promise of “big salaries” during the pandemic. Few have been compensated, and local CCP officials are now punishing many for asking to be paid. According to Yan, “Big whites are allowed to legally break into people’s homes. They can rape girls, kill their pets, take their possessions, and people are not allowed to get help. If the people call to get help, the message will be deleted, and the police will come and tell them to shut up.”

Yan says the protests are much more widespread than in the days of Tiananmen Square. Over 170 Universities country-wide have organized protests simultaneously, and it is not just the young protesting. Yan referenced a December 3, 2022, column by the New York Post that documented four Chinese citizens and their reasons for protesting. Many protested because of a deadly apartment fire in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region that allegedly killed ten people. These people were locked in the building from the outside because of the Zero COVID policy. One resident said, “Xinjiang is an open-air prison.”

Background from Previous Post Why Wu Flu Virus Looks Man-made

Doctor Li-Meng Yan, a scientist who studied some of the available data on COVID-19 has published her claims on Zenodo, an open access digital platform. She wrote that she believed COVID-19 could have been “conveniently created” within a lab setting over a period of just six months, and “SARS-CoV-2 shows biological characteristics that are inconsistent with a naturally occurring, zoonotic virus”.

The paper by Yan, Li-Meng; Kang, Shu; Guan, Jie; Hu, Shanchang  is Unusual Features of the SARS-CoV-2 Genome Suggesting Sophisticated Laboratory Modification Rather Than Natural Evolution and Delineation of Its Probable Synthetic Route.   A brief synopsis in italics with my bolds.

We present three lines of evidence to support our contention that laboratory manipulation is part of the history of SARS-CoV-2:

i. The genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 is suspiciously similar to that of a bat coronavirus discovered by military laboratories in the Third Military Medical University (Chongqing, China) and the Research Institute for Medicine of Nanjing Command (Nanjing, China).

ii. The receptor-binding motif (RBM) within the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which determines the host specificity of the virus, resembles that of SARS-CoV from the 2003 epidemic in a suspicious manner. Genomic evidence suggests that the RBM has been genetically manipulated.

iii. SARS-CoV-2 contains a unique furin-cleavage site in its Spike protein, which is known to greatly enhance viral infectivity and cell tropism. Yet, this cleavage site is completely absent in this particular class of coronaviruses found in nature. In addition, rare codons associated with this additional sequence suggest the strong possibility that this furin-cleavage site is not the product of natural evolution and could have been inserted into the SARS-CoV-2 genome artificially by techniques other than simple serial passage or multi-strain recombination events inside co-infected tissue cultures or animals.

 

Cleaning Toxic Pollution from Social Media

Jordan Peterson recently spoke with Piers Morgan on this topic (and related matters) in the video above.  Below is a lightly edited abridged transcript for those who prefer reading. (PM is Piers Morgan and JP is Jordan Peterson).  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

PM:  Jordan, it’s good to see you again. I was absolutely astonished (maybe I shouldn’t have been) by the reaction to our last interview worldwide. The sheer volume of people that watched the whole interview–the way the clips were disseminated on tick tock, on Facebook and on Twitter–it was a really interesting Insight actually into a whole world that doesn’t even involve conventional television anymore

JP: Well I’m still continually surprised about it but I think it shows that there’s really no way that Legacy TV in some real sense can compete with the absolutely wide open Frontier of online video distribution, where the cost is low and people can access it everywhere. It’s fundamentally the consequence of a Technological Revolution, and there’s all sorts of good things about that. And one of those would be the ability to widely disperse complex and sophisticated information, which YouTube has been particularly good at in the long form.

But it’s also problematic in that it produces all sorts of alterations and social behavior, and some of them very dangerous, many of which we’re only just beginning to understand.

PM: Right, Elon Musk has just bought Twitter and it’s creating a huge furor obviously, in many different ways. He’s admitted he’s going to do lots of things in the next few months and may get some wrong and have to try something else. And he’s going to try and work out a way of making a sustainable business model. But also he wants to bring back what he perceives to be genuine free speech on the platform. Is it possible Jordan, do you think that he can do that or are we now so entrenched in tribalism, particularly on social media that it’s almost impossible.

JP: Well you couldn’t have picked a better day to talk about this with me because I just got a paper sent to me by Jonathan Haidt. He didn’t write the paper but it’s published in a journal called Personality and Individual Differences. And it’s an examination of the personality traits associated with, let’s say, excessive and self-promoting internet usage. And if you don’t mind I’d like to read you a couple of the descriptions of what the people found, because it’s so absolutely spot on and relevant.

I don’t think we are descending into tribalism, but what’s happening in the virtualization of the world is enabling people who behave in a particular anti-social way in a self-aggrandizing and self-promoting anti-social way. I’ll just read you the descriptions that are taken directly from this paper. So it was an actual study of online Behavior.

Women characterized by high self-centered antagonism, neurotic narcissism, Machiavellian views Machiavellian tactics. So that’s manipulation, meanness, dis-inhibition, physical sadism and indirect sadism used Instagram for a longer time and more frequently than did men.

Honesty, humility and conscientiousness was associated with a shorter Facebook usage time

Women high in agenic extroversion, so that’s manipulative self-promotion and indirect sadism, used Facebook for a longer time and more frequently than men.

I’ve thought for a while that as we virtualize the world, we’re enabling the small percentage of people (it’s usually about three percent in general populations) who use manipulation and reputation savaging and denigration and self-promotion.

So the genuinely Psychopathic types dominate the social conversation and spew their poisonous and manipulative Venom into the public domain. And not only with no fear of being stopped and no inhibition, which is almost all applied socially but also being monetized and promoted by the people who run the social media channels.

Every society in history has had to contend with a small percentage of people
who will utilize all the benefits of society only for themselves.

They had to contend with the fact that those people if not brought under control can demolish the structure of the entire society. I think the polarization that we’re feeling is a consequence of their untrammeled expression online, Instagram, Facebook and in online comment forums like Twitter.

PM: That stuff you read out seemed to be gender specific to women but presumably also applies in other ways to men as well on social media

JP: Oh yes, I think the reason that it applied in this study in women is because Instagram involves heavy use of images. And there are reasons to assume because of that it attracts women who are directed towards short-term impulsive mating strategies, another sign of impulsive anti-social and Psychopathic Behavior.

I think you’d see the same thing in men. In fact I’ve been talking to psychologists, great psychologists to make sure that I’m on the right track about those who post repeatedly, say in online forums, especially in relationship to comments. And you certainly see that same pattern of sadism, machiavellianism psychopathy and narcissism characterizing with the Men who who are also incentivized to use what used to be classic female anti-social strategies to advance themselves in the reputational hierarchy.

PM: But the bottom line is: there is a small percentage of people generating a vast amount of noise.  What impact is that having on society, do you think?

JP: Well I think it it skews our perceptions of what normal people are like. We assume what we’re getting when you sample the world, when you’re walking through it, you you assume that you’re getting an unbiased representation of the things going on around you. And when you’re on an online platform and reading comments, you also think you’re seeing something like a sample of public opinion.

But it’s not you know. Because if 10 strangers came up you randomly in the street, then you’d have a bit of a sample of what people randomly think. But online behavior online isn’t random and the people who post aren’t aren’t precisely normal

I have been talking with Jonathan Haidt and Jean Twenge about this. And they might know more about it than anybody else in the world. It’s pretty clear to them that the people who are dominating online comment sections, and especially true of the people who post anonymously, and there’s other markers for for this sort of behavior as well. They dominate the political discourse

What’s happening in some sense is that we have a new form of pollution, that’s also corporate sponsored, and it’s pollution of the domain of public discourse.

The pollution occurs because the social media companies are either enabling or failing to control those known in the popular parlance as Trolls. But they’re not comical trolls you know, using derision in some cute way and and having their say in the Free Speech domain. They’re really poisonous individuals and they’re poisoning the entire domain.

PM: What can Elon Musk do about it, if you were advising him on this? I mean ironically at the moment you’re not on Twitter? Would you do you want to come back now that musk is in charge? Secondly what would you advise him to do about this issue of the trolls and so on?

JP: Well I’m going to be talking of precisely this to some of the political people over the next few weeks. I’ve discussed this with twangy and height to make sure that I’m not off on a personal tangent. The first thing I would say: There’s no excuse for including the anonymous posters with the real human beings. Social media platforms who have a certain reach, maybe a million subscribers, whatever figure is appropriate, should be required to implement known customer laws. And that the genuine verified human beings who are posting and are willing to abide by their words with their personal reputation should be put in one comment section. And then the online Anonymous cowardly narcissistic pathological troll demons who are polluting the public discourse should be put in a different comment section. So if you want to go to hell and visit the troll demons and see what they have. Dispute you can, but otherwise you can be among the normal human beings engaged in normal civil human discourse. That would separate the bloody Psychopaths from the bulk of decent normal people. You know 97 percent of people aren’t Psychopathic and so we are talking about a small minority here, but they have the upper hand.

Look it’s often the case that people in the industry that you’re in, and this would be true for politics and journalism, as well anything with a public face, are more likely to be extroverted and also more likely to be somewhat disagreeable. And those those personality traits can tilt you towards a style of callous exploitation. But there are other personality factors like conscientiousness that mediate against that. And so people who are hard-working and reliable, for example, aren’t parasitic in the same way that the classic psychopath would be.

So it’s complicated and it isn’t the case that extroversion and even a certain degree of disagreeableness in and of themselves are dangerous. But they lead like everybody’s led to Temptation in the direction that’s in accordance with their temperament. And the fact that you are a public-facing person and that you like that would tilt you in one direction of potential temptation.

But that’s not necessarily diagnostic. It probably is the case that politics and journalism and entertainment attract a disproportionate number of machiavellians and Psychopaths because of the of the status that goes along with those Enterprises. But it’s not diagnostic: it doesn’t mean that if you’re in that industry and you’ve had a long career that you are one. That’s also another marker for failure or for lack of psychopathy because in the normal world, Psychopaths exploit and they get a reputation for doing so quite quickly, and then people avoid them and stop working with them. So it doesn’t work over the medium to long run as a general rule.

PM: Jordan, let’s talk about Donald Trump. What is he is he a narcissist, a sociopath, a psychopath, all of those things, none of them?

JP: I don’t think he’s a psychopath because he’s been successful in repeated Enterprises over long periods of time, and he has a variety of people who are remain intensely loyal to him. Now he’s definitely extroverted to a very great degree, and he’s definitely disagreeable. So that gives him some of the traits that are associated with those personality features.

But from what I’ve been able to understand, he’s also very conscientious and hardworking, for example. So that’s a real mitigating factor. I think it’s very easy to demonize someone that you don’t approve of. Certainly Trump is being subject to more demonization than any political leader in the west that I can remember in my entire lifetime, including Richard Nixon.

So that’s also set him back on his heels and made him somewhat embattled and defensive, which I don’t think did any great things for for his personality.

So I think it’s a mistake to assume that that Trump is a psychopath. I think it’s a big mistake to assume that someone potent is a psychopath. T he evidence suggests that you don’t want to throw those labels around casually. And you know, how could it be Trump was Psychopathic, since he did a pretty good job of keeping the United States clear of War for four years. That’s pretty damn remarkable, and he did have a big hand in promoting the Abraham Peace Accords, also pretty remarkable.

Those aren’t the sorts of things that you would expect from the psychopath. He also seems to have a pretty good hand with the working class. So I I don’t think those are reasonable diagnostic labels to place on someone.

Whether or not Donald Trump should be president, it would be good for Americans to sort out in the public sphere debated intensely and subject to an election. It might be very interesting to see him put himself forward on the Republican ticket. If I had my druthers, and I say this I hope with due care, I would rather see someone like DeSantis step forward, who shares some of that forthright strength let’s say that characterizes Trump at his best. But seems to be a more cautious administrator and a less divisive figure. Because Trump, for whatever virtues he might have, and I think he has the virtues of a Washington Outsider, I think that his behavior in the political realm raises the political temperature to a dangerous degree.

PM: There’s somebody else who may well have presidential Ambitions and has been the subject of a lot of negativity: Meghan Markle. Prince Harry’s wife. She seems to perennially play the victim, the female victim of all outrages, and your name got dragged into this. Let’s take a listen to what she said.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been called crazy or hysterical. Or what about nuts, insane, out of your mind, completely irrational. I don’t think that men can control crazy women. The use of these labels has been drilled into us from movies and TV, from friends and family and even from random strangers.  And the fact is no one wants this label.

What did you make of that Jordan–to be suddenly appearing on Meghan Markle’s podcast as a villain?

JP: The first thing: I’m calling women crazy. Well the first thing I make of it is that her voice drips with the same falsehood as does the voice of Kamala Harris. It’s this sanctimonious, full compassionate talking down to her audience, and trying to be sure that we’re all really on the same compassionate page here. And we’re all being victimized by terrible forces that are arrayed against us. And none of that’s really fair.

You played a bit of a clip from me talking to Camille Paglia the literary critic. I do believe that it is very difficult to control female anti-social Behavior of the type that’s been pilloried as hysterical. And there is no shortage of clinical evidence to support precisely that. It’s very difficult for women to control female anti-social behavior. And females who are anti-social exhibit that feminine pattern of reputation savaging under the guise of Compassionate Care.

It’s extraordinarily destructive and so I stand by my words. And I do think it scales online because you can use an anonymous reputation savaging to unbelievably great effect online with absolutely no punishment for your sins so to speak. That is certainly one of the things that’s contributing to so-called Cancel Culture, and there’s no shortage of that coming from the female side.

Now men can engage in exactly the same strategies and they do so online and that’s enabled. It’s definitely seen with men which I’ve said before. And I do believe the ever-present threat of the potential for physical violence keeps men from doing that to each other most of the time in person.  But all that disappears online, which means that those who are prone to do such things: to use corrosive and denigrating derision, for example, and reputation savaging can have a free hand at it. And that includes no shortage of women. And women are very often the targets of that behavior from their own fellows so to speak.

PM: We’ve talked about Trump and Meghan Markle. I wanted to just ask you again about Elon Musk, what you thought of him as a character?

JP: Well I know people who know him very well and have worked with him very closely and these are very solid people; extremely competent and extremely creative and they’re admirers of Musk. I talked with my brother-in-law Jim Keller who’s one of the world’s great chip engineers and he worked very closely with Musk for years. He believes that in many ways Musk is exactly what you’d think he was. He’s a genius, a Visionary genius; but he’s also someone who’s very very good at implementing. He’s very good at running companies as you can tell because he has a multitude of impossibly successful companies. And so he goes into a company and he cleans house and puts things in order and makes things work efficiently.

Maybe he can do that with Twitter. I hope he can because Musk is doing all sorts of things that appear to be useful and difficult and it would be a catastrophe to see him derailed in his efforts. I dipped into Twitter this morning. It instantly struck me the same way I was struck the last time I was on Twitter. It’s such a den of pathology that I think using it is psychologically damaging. If it’s possible for Musk to get the the trolls under control (and they’re not trolls, they’re Psychopathic Machiavellian sadistic narcissists), then it’s possible that the platform might be useful. I like to share information and I like to follow people to see what they were up to; A lot of the people that I’ve met over the years. But man it’s a snake pit

PM: Should people be compelled to wear poppies for example, and I guess this goes to the wider thing about General displays of signaling your virtue in any way that you choose. Should anyone be compelled to whatever the cause whether it’s a black Square on Instagram when George Floyd died, or a poppy for Armistice Day or so on.

JP: I think that that compulsion especially in matters of public policy is a sign of bad policy. If you can’t get people on board voluntarily by motivating them with the proper story, then you’re a poor leader. So I certainly would be opposed to anything approximating legal compulsion. Now we use social compulsion frequently to produce consensus and to enforce it. that’s never going to go away and there’s some utility in that.

But my general take on the world Is that people should be allowed to go to hell in a hand basket pretty much any way they choose once they’re adults, although they might be encouraged not to do that and invited not to do that. But I’m not a fan of compulsion for any reason, it is a sign of bad policy. If you and I can’t play together voluntarily, then we don’t have a very good relationship and it’s not going to be efficient and productive forced to continue.

See also American Soviet Mentality

Americans have discovered the way in which fear of collective disapproval breeds self-censorship and silence, which impoverish public life and creative work. The double life one ends up leading—one where there is a growing gap between one’s public and private selves—eventually begins to feel oppressive. For a significant portion of Soviet intelligentsia (artists, doctors, scientists), the burden of leading this double life played an important role in their deciding to emigrate.

Those who join in the hounding face their own hazards. The more loyalty you pledge to a group that expects you to participate in rituals of collective demonization, the more it will ask of you and the more you, too, will feel controlled. How much of your own autonomy as a thinking, feeling person are you willing to sacrifice to the collective? What inner compromises are you willing to make for the sake of being part of the group? Which personal relationships are you willing to give up?

The practice of collective condemnation feels like an assertion of a culture that ultimately tramples on the individual and creates an oppressive society. Whether that society looks like Soviet Russia, or Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, or Castro’s Cuba, or today’s China, or something uniquely 21st-century American, the failure of institutions and individuals to stand up to mob rule is no longer an option we can afford.

Jen Psaki Will Be Deposed in Censorship Lawsuit

Julie Kelly writes at American Greatness Jen Psaki: Investigations for Thee, But Not for Me.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

It’s beyond ironic that the mouthpiece for a regime proceeding with yet another punitive and vengeful investigation into Donald Trump wants to be shielded from an inquiry into her own misdeeds.

Former White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki, much like her old boss, is a big fan of investigations.

From her perch at the podium in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, Psaki routinely endorsed criminal, civil, and congressional inquiries into the events of January 6 and warned the individuals targeted—including Donald Trump and his former aides—that they must comply with the legal process.

Psaki announced that Biden would not extend executive privilege to his predecessor related to the January 6 select committee’s inquisition, giving investigators carte blanche access to all of Trump’s records for most of 2020—most of which had nothing to do with January 6. “We are, we have been working closely with congressional committees and others as they work to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th, an incredibly dark day in our democracy,” Psaki said in September 2021.

And anyone who defied congressional subpoenas, Psaki noted, could face criminal charges.

But Psaki, unsurprisingly, is taking a different approach now that she’s a defendant in a sprawling civil lawsuit seeking to uncover the federal government’s deep collaboration with Big Tech to suppress free speech and promote Biden’s political interests.

Psaki is one of more than five dozen current and former federal officials—including Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy—being sued by the states of Missouri and Louisiana for violating the First Amendment rights of American citizens.

Having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left, senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social-media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social-media platforms under the Orwellian guise of halting so-called ‘disinformation,’ ‘misinformation,’ and ‘malinformation,’” the complaint reads. “Under the First Amendment, the federal Government should play no role in policing private speech or picking winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas. But that is what federal officials are doing, on a massive scale—the full scope and impact of which yet to be determined.”

The lawsuit cited numerous occasions when Psaki gloated about the White House’s partnership with social media platforms to ban content contradictory to the official narrative on COVID-19 and vaccines. For example, during a July 2021 press briefing with Surgeon General Murthy, Psaki publicly urged Facebook to deplatform accounts she considered purveyors of “health misinformation,” an alleged scourge that Murthy described as an “urgent public health threat.” Psaki made her expectations quite clear.

“[We] engage with [social media companies] regularly and they certainly understand
what our asks are,” Psaki bragged.

A few days later, Facebook banned the accounts Psaki had accused of spreading “misinformation.”

Now all of a sudden, Psaki doesn’t want to boast about how she strong-armed
Silicon Valley to do the regime’s bidding—especially under oath.

Judge Terry Doughty from the western district of Louisiana last month ordered Psaki to sit for a deposition, finding that the ex-spokeswoman “has personal knowledge about the issue concerning censorship across social media as it related to COVID-19 and ancillary issues of COVID-19.” Doughty further concluded that “any burden on Psaki is outweighed by the need to determine whether free speech has been suppressed.” On November 1, Psaki was served with a subpoena, ordering her to appear for a sworn deposition in Arlington, Virginia, near her home.

Psaki, however, doesn’t have time. The newly minted MSNBC contributor—Psaki is slated to host her own show on the network starting next year—is simply too swamped.

In a separate statement to the court, Psaki claimed that “sitting for a deposition in this matter would be extremely burdensome for me. Among other things, I understand that I would need to devote several days to preparing for the deposition, as well as attending the deposition itself, and that would be highly disruptive to both my work and my family.”

You don’t say!

Psaki’s interview also would create a big job for government lawyers who would need to determine “which of her conversations or recollections might be subject to executive privilege,” her legal team argued.

Setting aside the laughable hypocrisy of Psaki now invoking her status as a “private citizen” and “former senior official” when she offered no such consideration to Donald Trump, and further noting the hollowness of her complaints that a deposition would be far too time-consuming.  The notion is astonishing:  That somehow she is entitled to executive privilege, but a former president and his top aides including legal counsel are not.

Further, Psaki’s lawyers warned they will fight the production of “any Documents and Communications that relate to any member of the White House Communications Team or any other Federal Official communicating with Social-Media Platforms about Content on those Platforms.”

Funny how Psaki had no similar objection when she announced in October 2021 that the White House had ordered the transfer of thousands of Trump’s official records to the January 6 select committee.

Psaki’s lawyers attempted to bypass Judge Doughty. They filed a motion to quash the subpoena in the eastern district of Virginia, where Psaki lives and likely will sit for the deposition. But the Virginia judge wasn’t having any part of it, ordering the matter returned to the Louisiana court where the lawsuit originated.  In other words, the judge told Psaki to “circle back.”

It looks like Psaki has run out of options to avoid her scheduled
December 8 video-recorded deposition.

Which, by the way, Psaki wants under seal. Lawyers representing the eight officials ordered to be deposed asked Judge Doughty to issue a protective order on all recorded interviews, insisting that “civil servants—do not reasonably expect that they will be subjected to video-recorded, publicly disseminated cross-examination about the way that they carried out their job duties.”

Publicly releasing the videos, the lawyers said, creates a “significant likelihood that audiovisual recordings of federal employee depositions taken in this case will be manipulated or abused” and cherry-picked clips “will expose the deponents to undue harassment and invasions of privacy.”

Doughty partially granted their motion, sealing the taped depositions only until the interviews are docketed as discovery evidence before trial. “The public’s interest in access of this information is especially strong because this matter involves the [First] Amendment right to freedom of speech,” he wrote in a November 17 order.

It goes without saying—or should, at any rate—that a coordinated effort between the most powerful government officials and the most powerful information providers to silence and punish political dissent is a far greater “threat to democracy,” as they like to say, than what happened for a few hours on January 6.

And it’s beyond ironic that the mouthpiece for a regime proceeding with yet another punitive and vengeful investigation into Donald Trump wants to be shielded from an inquiry into her own misdeeds. Proof once again that accountability, transparency, and consequences only runs one way in Washington.

Background from previous post

Fed Govt./Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit Update: Senior Biden People Will Be Deposed

Zachary Stieber  reports at Epoch Times Judge Rejects Biden Administration’s Attempt to Block Depositions in Big Tech-Government Censorship Case.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, rejected a request for a partial stay of his Oct. 21 order authorizing the depositions of eight officials, including President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Government lawyers asked the judge to impose the partial stay as an appeals court weighs a request to vacate the part of his order that enables the depositions of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a Biden appointee; Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly, a Biden appointee; and Rob Flaherty, a deputy assistant to the president.

Absent a stay, “high-ranking governmental officials would be diverted from their significant duties and burdened in both preparing and sitting for a deposition, all of which may ultimately prove to be unnecessary if the Court of Appeals grants” their request, the government said.

Doughty ruled that the government failed to show how the officials would be irreparably harmed apart from referencing a diversion from “significant duties.” That didn’t meet the standard for showing irreparable harm, he said.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks during a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on July 15, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

From the Judge’s MEMORANDUM ORDER

For the reasons set forth herein, Federal Defendants’ Corrected Motion for Partial Stay is DENIED. (Excerpts in italics with my bolds.)

1. Surgeon General Murthy

Details regarding the allegations as to Murthy are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions. Murthy was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) publicly criticizing tech companies by asserting they were responsible for COVID-19 deaths due to their failure to censor “mis-information”; (2) issuing a Request for Information on March 2, 2022, requesting tech companies to provide him with “mis-information”; and (3) engaging in communication with high-level Facebook executives about greater censorship of COVID-19 “misinformation.”

Although Murthy was a high-ranking official, the potential burden imposed on Murthy was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment rights of free speech have been suppressed. The Court found exceptional circumstances were present and that the substantive reasons for taking the deposition were sufficient.

2. CISA Director Jen Easterly

Details of the allegations as they relate to Easterly are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions.  Easterly was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) supervising the “nerve center” of federally directed censorship; (2) directly flagging alleged “misinformation” to social media companies for censorship; (3) stating that social media speech by Americans is a form of infrastructure that allows the CISA to police online speech; (4) being involved in extensive oral communications and meetings between CISA officials and social-media platforms; and (5) being personally involved in text messages specifically discussing how greater censorship of social-media platforms would be done by exerting federal pressure on social-media platforms to increase censorship.

The Court also conducted its analysis of Easterly as if she were a high-ranking official and found that her personal knowledge required her deposition. The Court further found that the burden upon her was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment free speech rights are being suppressed. The Court found exceptional circumstances were present and that the substantive reasons for taking the deposition were sufficient.

3. White House Director of Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty

Details of the allegations as to Flaherty are set forth in the Memorandum Order Regarding Witness Depositions. Flaherty was found to have first-hand knowledge by (1) having extensive oral meetings with social-media platforms including Twitter, Meta and You-Tube on vaccine hesitancy and combatting “mis-information”; (2) directly communicating with Meta’s director of U.S. Public Policy through “Covid Insight Reports” (which details trends/posts by social media users on Meta); (3) Meta’s reporting to Flaherty about Meta’s intentions to censor disfavored opinions about vaccine effectiveness for new groups for which vaccines were authorized; (4) having specific knowledge on Meta’s attempts to censor groups referred to by Flaherty as the “Disinformation Dozen”; and (5) being aware of the President-Elect-Joe Biden transition team’s efforts to stifle “mis-information” through Meta.

The Court also assumed that Flaherty was a high-ranking official and conducted its analysis
as such. It found special circumstances were present to take his deposition. The Court further found the burden upon Flaherty was outweighed by the need to determine whether First Amendment free speech rights are being suppressed; therefore, the substantive reasons for taking his deposition were sufficient.

For the reasons set forth herein, the Court also finds Federal Defendants are not likely to
succeed on the merits of their mandamus petition.

Background from previous post: Fed Govt./Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit: 47 New Biden People Added

Zachary Stieber writes at Epoch Times 47 New Biden Administration Defendants Named in Government–Big Tech Censorship Lawsuit.  Excerpts in italic with my bolds.

Nearly 50 new government defendants have been added to the lawsuit that alleges the government induced censorship of state officials and others on social media.

The second amended complaint in the case, Missouri v. Biden, includes six new agencies, bringing the total to 13, and 41 new individual defendants, bringing the total to 54.

Altogether, 67 officials or agencies are accused of violating plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights by participating in a “censorship enterprise” through pressuring Big Tech firms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to take action against users offering alleged misinformation.

Evidence backing the claims has been produced in discovery, including exchanges between White House officials and Meta, Facebook’s parent company and messages showing meetings between administration officials and the firms.

The new defendants include the FBI; former White House senior COVID-19 adviser Andrew Slavitt; Dana Remus, counsel to President Joe Biden; Elvis Chan, an FBI special agent based in San Francisco; Janell Muhammed, deputy digital director at the Department of Health and Human Services; Allison Snell, an official at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the State Department; and Mark Robbins, interim executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

One or more of the Big Tech firms that were subpoenaed in the case identified the officials as possibly communicating with them on content moderation relating to “COVID-19 misinformation,” the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, the administration’s since-disbanded Disinformation Governance Board, and/or “election security, integrity, outcomes, and/or public confidence in election outcomes (not to include issues of foreign interference or related issues).”

Slavitt was named because emails show he was in communication with Facebook regarding the combating of alleged misinformation. The messages show that Facebook was committed to censoring and de-emphasizing posts that were “departing from the government’s messaging on vaccines,” plaintiffs said. Slavitt also called for Twitter to ban Alex Berenson, an independent journalist, previously released messages show.

Muhammed, meanwhile, was in touch with Facebook to ask the company to take down pages and accounts that were allegedly misrepresenting themselves as representing the government. “Absolutely,” one of the Facebook employees responded.

Other discovery suggests the FDA “has participated in federally-induced censorship of private speech on social media about questions of vaccine safety and efficacy, among other subjects,” plaintiffs said.

The agencies that were added to the case did not respond to requests for comment.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee overseeing the case, recently ordered defendants named in earlier complaints to comply with demands, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to Biden. The new documents do not include any more information from Fauci or the White House press secretary’s office.

Footnote: 

From Your news: Biden Admin Showered Millions On Government’s ‘Misinformation’ Czars After 2020 Election

The four groups in question – Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, and social media analytics firm Graphika – comprise the “Election Integrity Partnership,” which exists as a ‘concierge-like’ service for federal agencies such as Homeland’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and State’s Global Engagement Center to flag online content for censorship or monitoring by Big Tech using a “ticket” system.

Unsurprisingly, the head of Stanford’s Internet Observatory is a Clinton donor who previously served as Facebook’s Head of Security – while the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public is largely funded by the Knight Foundation, whose board exclusively contributes to Democrat or Neocon entities. 

Meanwhile, the Biden administration empowered three liberal groups to file tickets seeking censorship; the Democratic National Committee, Common Cause and the NAACP.

https://twitter.com/katestarbird/status/1556289862973632515

https://twitter.com/katestarbird/status/1556297891982979074?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1556297891982979074%7Ctwgr%5Eeefc305fb22a7724dd39199397ee543e8227995c%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fyournews.com%2F2022%2F10%2F03%2F2426630%2Fbiden-admin-showered-millions-on-governments-misinformation-czars-after-2020%2F

Advancing National Takeover of Energy Industry

Tom Luongo writes at his blog The Oil Nationalization Two-Step.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds and added images.

You’ve all heard me rant about the “Straussian Two-Step,” which is nothing more than a retread of the Hegelian Dialectic.   Here’s the formal definition:

An interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertible proposition (thesis ) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertible and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis ), the mutual contradiction being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis ).

In modern politics it’s used to create a false reality by asserting something that is
partially true (at best) or a truth that you yourself created as a person in power.

In today’s case it’s a manufactured energy crisis across the West.

In order to see the Straussian Two-Step however you have to work backwards. This process is not an a priori deduction or an exhaustive fit of investigative journalism.

Rather it is an inductive conclusion based on awareness of the motivations of those in power and seeing how they lead a mass of people to a pre-ordained conclusion. In other words, schizo-posting.

Carbon fighters attacking the Exxon Mobil bastion, here seen without their shareholders disguises.

Thesis

So, say your goal is to legitimize the state takeover, or advance another step forward the state takeover, of an industry. Let’s use oil and gas for today’s lesson.

The first thing you do is manufacture a crisis that will disrupt the supply of the product you want to takeover. In this case, it started with COVID-19, which disrupted far more than just the energy sector.

More than 2 million barrels per day of refining capacity was lost world wide thanks to COVID-19. Given the current hostility to new refineries (more on this later), those barrels are not coming back.

Don’t forget, that for a “Straussian Two-Step” this big you will have to brainwash and/or gaslight two entire generations into hating themselves for being rich, wasteful, spoiled, alive or worse, just plain white.

So, they are already primed to hate all the things at play here — capitalism, Big Oil, Banks, Old White Guys (rich or poor) — and enrage your useful idiots by pushing their already tenuous hold on reality to the literal breaking point.   “I can’t even….” isn’t the most common phrase uttered on Tik-Tok for nothing.

That’s the Thesis part.

So, when the crisis hits thanks to natural gas disruption you forbid buying of from a particular country… you demonize not only Vlad but the industry itself for price gouging and preying on the widdle guy during a war.   There’s a word for this… chutzpah.

Antithesis

Predictably, you then allow your fake political opponents …[enter Cocaine Mitch from Stage Right]… to produce the opposite argument. In this case, the counter is obviously we need free markets to produce oil and gas. The refiners are just responding to the market.

That fake opposition, of course, also blames Vlad for this crisis to ensure the market’s champion looks not only patriotic but also suitably bought and paid for by Big Oil, Old White Guys, etc.

Both sides of this argument have now been framed 90 degrees away from the real source of the problem–government intrusion into the flow of oil and gas to your homes.

This is a crisis that if left solved to human ingenuity and, yes, the studious application of greed, would be over in a matter of weeks as refineries shut down during COVID would come back online, supply chains reorganized etc.

While the crisis phase would be over quickly, the long term investment cycle set off in refining would take longer to structurally immunize the industry against future supply shocks to accomplish.

Prices may not return to normal for years but the market, without intervention by rapacious morons both in government and running them from behind the curtain, would eventually grind the arbitrage out of the fuel industry nearly entirely.

Synthesis

Remember the goal. Destroy free markets, nationalize oil and gas.

This means also preparing the next move to get rid of another aspect of the free market while zeroing in on the current crisis. In this theoretical case, we’re looking at the massive diesel crack spreads of refineries, fueling the perpetual motion machine of Marxism’s inherent envy.

Moreover, this situation exploded on the eve of a crucial election to put into the mouths of the crisis actors we call colloquially, “Members of Congress.”

Their solution? Put windfall profit taxes on refiners who are taking advantage of the vulnerable and needy common man. They are evil ‘price gougers’ by accepting the bids from the market for the fruits of their labors which occurred precisely because of artificially inducing a shock to the system.

In the case of diesel fuel in the US this is clearly a manufactured crisis.

COVID took a lot of refineries in the Northeast (PADD-1) offline. And given the hostility of the Biden administration and environmentalists to the oil industry as a whole, as I alluded to earlier, those refineries are not coming back online anytime soon.

Don’t take my word for it, take it from the ones who own the refineries.

“Building a refinery is a multi-billion dollar investment. It may take a decade. We haven’t had a refinery built in the United States since the 1970s. My personal view is that there will never be another refinery built in the United States.”

According to Wirth, oil and gas companies would have to weigh the benefits of committing capital ten years out that will need decades to offer a return to shareholders “in a policy environment where governments around the world are saying ‘we don’t want these products to be used in the future’”.

Why would they? If it were your money would you begin the insane process to build an oil refinery in the US today even with crack spreads at $70+ per barrel? Of course not. By the time you filed the first Environmental Impact Assessment application form the spreads could be back to $20 because it’s politically advantageous for the “Straussian Two-Steppers” to take the pressure off for a few months.

Government is keeping the market in a supply/demand mismatch on purpose. That’s the only conclusion you can draw. Because if “Biden” wanted to solve this problem he wouldn’t be draining the SPR, he’d be rolling back regulations on refining oil or offering some of that ‘infrastructure money’ to help the industry rebuild post-COVID.

High Bid Wins the Prize

Diesel fuel demand is mostly inelastic, since it’s simply necessary for our daily life. Any supply disruption will cause massive price spikes because people will fall all over themselves bidding up the price of available supply to get what they can.

This is the one thing morons leftists can’t wrap their head around. Producers aren’t withholding supply and ‘raising prices’ in an open market economy. That’s propaganda. The reality is that consumers bid up the price for everything in demand or withhold those bids when the cost/benefit isn’t in their favor.

This is the dynamic at play when I use the term cost-push inflation. A supply shortage pushes the bids for basic goods up out of necessity and pouring money into the system through government handouts only accelerates this effect.

Low cost or free dollars flow to the things people need the most and that is the main source of our inflation today.

So, when you see the headlines full of scaremongering like the US only has 20 days of diesel fuel left, this undergirds the bids for limited supply. The futures markets are stripped of their power to coordinate supply over time and producers are stuck being demonized by low quality agitprop from the likes of AOC and Lizzie Slapaho.

Nationalization: The Next Two-Step

Windfall profit taxes are already on the way in Germany, 90% of all profits taxed away to the state. Energy production, when that bill passes, will be nationalized in Germany. The end of rational energy pricing will be gone.

Germany will become another energy subsidizing hellscape like we see all over the world.

The choice in front of German energy companies now is Uniper’s fate, nationalization through bailout, or remain ‘private’ but on a government-mandated cost-plus business model the profits from which will never outcompete the depreciation curve.

Today here in the US the Democrats are pushing for outright nationalization of all oil and gas production. That was the goal all along, the thesis. The fake antithesis is the “Drill baby, Drill,” crowd on Capitol Hill, crying crocodile tears over the loss of the Keystone XL pipeline for more than a decade.

The synthesis this time around will be finally getting through their long-sought after billionaire’s tax in the form of a windfall tax starting with evil Big Oil. Even if they don’t get it, it’s not like they don’t have other things on their to-do lists to get it done.

They are starting here again because they know no one will seriously consider outright nationalization (the next synthesis) unless there’s a war with Russia…